MIAMI – Veteran Sen. Bill Nelson conceded on Sunday to his Republican opponent in the Florida Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott, whom he telephoned to congratulate after the results of the state’s manual vote recount showed that Scott had maintained the early lead he had acquired on election night on Nov. 6.
Nelson acknowledged his defeat in a video message directed at his supporters, whom he thanked for voting for him and helping in his election campaign.
“Let me say, I by no measure feel defeated. And that’s because I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life,” said Nelson, who has been one of Florida’s senators since 2001 and was seeking a fourth term in this year’s midterm vote.
“It has been a rewarding journey as well as a very humbling experience. I was not victorious in this race but I still wish to strongly re-affirm the cause for which we fought: A public office is a public trust,” Nelson said.
Shortly before the Democrat released his message, now-Senator-elect Scott said that Nelson had “graciously conceded” the election to him in a phone call.
With the conclusion of the manual recount – legally mandated because the preliminary victory margin was less than 0.25 percent – Scott had maintained his lead over Nelson, garnering a total of 4,099,505 votes (50.05 percent) to the Democrat’s 4,089,472 (49.93 percent).
The recount had reduced the outgoing state governor’s margin of victory from more than 12,500 votes to 10,033, out of a total of 8.1 million ballots cast in Florida.
As many had suspected, however, and despite several lawsuits filed by Nelson to ensure that the vote recount proceeded unimpeded, the longtime senator was unable to prevail in his bid for reelection.
Now, Scott will take office and serve alongside Florida’s other US Senator, fellow Republican Marco Rubio.
The Florida secretary of state must now certify the official results of the election next Tuesday.
On Saturday, in the other key Florida race that had required a recount because of the narrow preliminary victory margin, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded to his Republican rival, Ron DeSantis, who had triumphed by some 34,000 votes.