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US midterm elections 2018

Republican Rick Scott wins Florida US Senate seat after manual recount

  • Scott wins senate seat in recount of November 6 election by just 10,033 votes
PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2018, 3:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2018, 3:54am

Florida’s outgoing governor, Republican Rick Scott, was declared the winner of the state’s hard-fought US Senate race on Sunday, following a manual recount of ballots in the tight contest against three-term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

In the recount of the November 6 election, Scott won by 10,033 votes out of 8.19 million cast statewide, Florida elections officials said on Sunday. Scott took 50.05 per cent, compared with 49.93 per cent for Nelson, the officials added.

Nelson, first elected to the Senate in 2000, became the latest incumbent Democratic senator toppled in the midterm congressional election in which President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate but lost control of the House of Representatives.

Other incumbent Democratic senators defeated in the election include Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Democrat Andrew Gillum concedes Florida governor’s race as recount ends, congratulates rival Republican Ron DeSantis

Scenes of thousands of people across the state reviewing ballots during the recount process had brought back memories of Florida’s 2000 presidential recount, which ended only after the US Supreme Court stepped in, effectively handing the presidency to Republican George W. Bush.

“I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service,” Scott said in an emailed statement.

The statement ended, “Let’s get to work”.

Nelson’s office said he will issue a statement later on Sunday.

Scott, who was prevented by state law from running for a third term as governor, emerged from the vote with a lead of less than 0.5 percentage points, which prompted a recount of the ballots. Republicans including Trump made allegations, without offering evidence, that the process was marred by fraud.

The battle between Nelson and Scott and the race to replace Scott as governor both were closely watched contests in which Democrats had hoped to topple Republicans. On Saturday, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican rival Ron DeSantis, an ally of Trump, in the governor’s race, which also went to a recount.

Scott, 65, entered politics from the business world, having amassed a personal fortune as a healthcare executive. He dipped into his wealth to help finance his campaigns, winning the governorship in 2010 and 2014 by about 1 per cent of the vote.

Nelson, 76, has been a fixture in Florida politics since he won a seat in the state legislature in 1972. He then served in the US House of Representatives and has held state Cabinet posts.