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Bill Nelson concedes Florida Senate race to Rick Scott

Posted: 1:29 PM, Nov 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-18 19:39:52Z

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Sunday conceded the Florida Senate race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, ending his re-election bid after the completion of a statewide recount.

Scott announced the concession in a statement, saying, "I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service."

Nelson will make a statement at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, his campaign announced.

The concession brings to conclusion a key Senate race that continued to be fought well after Election Day.

The Senate race -- along with the governor's and state's race for agriculture commissioner -- went to a machine recount a week ago, but the recount did not do nearly enough for Nelson and further formalized Scott's more than 12,000-vote lead. The contest still fell within the .25% standard for a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes, however.

Nelson conceded after the noon deadline for the manual recount, when all of Florida's 67 counties were required to submit their final vote totals to the secretary of state, meaning every vote deemed admissible by county canvassing boards and the courts had been officially counted.

The results of the recount showed Scott with a vote lead of 10,033 over incumbent Nelson. Before the completion of the manual recount, Scott had a lead of 12,603 votes.

Nelson's concession comes a day after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum ended his campaign for governor by acknowledging that Republican Ron DeSantis had defeated him. The concession was a blow to Nelson, given the two top Democrats had figuratively stood together in calling for every legal vote cast in Florida to be counted. Gillum's bowing out was an acknowledgment that many Democrats in the state believe the fight is over.

Nelson's loss ends his nearly two-decade tenure in the Senate, where he most recently served as the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee and previously served as the chair of the Senate Aging Committee.

Nelson has been a fixture in Florida politics for more than four decades, serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives for six years in the 1970s before vaulting to the US House of Representatives in 1979, where he served for 12 years.