Florida Senate race finally decided, Democrat Nelson concedes according to rival Scott
MIAMI — Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., conceded their hotly contested race in a phone call with Republican Rick Scott Sunday — nearly two weeks after Election Day and following two recounts — Scott said in a statement.
"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service," Scott said. "This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people. Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it. We must do what Americans have always done: come together for the good of our state and our country."
Nelson, nearing the end of his third term in the Senate, was scheduled to make a public statement at 3 p.m. ET. A Nelson spokeswoman did not immediately reply to an email seeking confirmation of the phone call.
But Nelson's path to victory was cut off earlier Sunday when the results of a hand recount of the state's votes left Scott, the state's two-term governor, with a 10,033-vote advantage.
Scott had held a 12,603-vote edge after a machine recount wrapped up earlier in the week, meaning the county-by-county manual version narrowed the gap by 2,570 votes.
The state's 67 counties had to meet a 12 p.m. Sunday deadline to have their results counted.
The addition of Scott would give Senate Republicans 52 seats in the Senate and Democrats 47 seats in the next Congress, pending the outcome of a Mississippi special election that will be decided Nov. 27.
Democrats originally had hoped that Broward County, where there were roughly 30,000 ballots on which machines either picked up multiple votes on the same ballot for the Senate race or no vote at all in that contest — known as "overvotes" and "undervotes."
They thought it was possible that the machines had erred and simply not read valid votes for the Senate race correctly.
But Broward County updated its website shortly before noon Sunday with new numbers showing that voters had simply not picked a candidate in the race, perhaps due to the design of the ballot.
After the hand recount, Nelson had picked up 495 votes in Broward compared to the totals originally submitted to the secretary of state, and Scott had added 142 votes.
In the days after the Nov. 6 election, Democrats mounted a wide-ranging legal challenge to Florida election laws and the actions of state officials in what they said was an effort to ensure that every vote was counted.