Election results for Florida Senate: Rick Scott claims razor-thin victory against Bill Nelson

John McCarthy
Florida Today

9 a.m. Nov. 7 update:

Gov. Rick Scott has declared victory in his U.S. Senate race over incumbent Bill Nelson, but a recount may coming.

As late vote total were tallied overnight, the race closed enough to put it within the 0.5 percentage point difference that triggers an automatic recount.

With votes from all 6,111 precincts now in, Republican Gov. Rick Scott appears to have won the race with 4,067,686 votes (50.24 percent) compared to Democrat Bill Nelson's 4,028,969 votes (49.76 percent).

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Only 38,717 votes separated the two candidates out of more than 8 million votes cast.

According to the state's election office, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval and Lake counties had not completed counting absentee ballot, and most counties had not yet counted provisional ballots. Absentee ballots coming from oversees can still be received and counted for 10 days.

Under state law in Florida, a machine recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. If the machine recount shows a margin of less than 0.25 percentage points, a hand recount kicks in.

Scott earlier declared victory in the race although Nelson has not publicly conceded. Nelson's campaign said after midnight that a statement would be coming later today.

Check back for updates.

5:15 a.m. Nov. 7 update:

With votes from all 6,111 precincts now in, Republican Gov. Rick Scott appears to have won the race with 4,067,686 votes (50.24 percent) compared to Democrat Bill Nelson's 4,028,969 votes (49.76 percent).

Only 38,717 votes separated the two candidates out of more than 8 million votes cast.

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Gov. Rick Scott appears to have defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Gov. Scott's campaign declared victory just before midnight. 

Nelson didn't officially concede the race. But about 30 minutes after Scott declared victory, the Nelson campaign acknowledged they were not likely to win the race.

“Based on numerous media reports, the U.S. Senate race has been called for Rick Scott," Nelson spokesman Pete Mitchell said. "This obviously is not the result Sen. Nelson and his campaign had worked so hard for. The Senator will be making a full statement tomorrow to thank all those who rallied to our cause.”

Scott had a lead of about 55,000 votes in a race in which more than 8 million votes were cast. As of 1:30 a.m., 15 of the state's 6,111 precincts still had not reported vote totals.

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The race was the most expensive race in the state's history. As of the middle of October, Scott had spent about $66 million, including $51 million out of his own pocket. Nelson had spent about $25 million. Outside groups poured tens of millions more into attack ads and mailers trying to sway the election. 

Nelson, first elected in 2000, was seeking his fourth term in the Senate. He previously served as the state's insurance commissioner and represented the Space Coast in the Florida Legislature and in Congress.

Scott, a former health-care executive, had never held elected office until he was elected governor in 2010. After serving two-terms, he couldn't seek re-election because of term limits.

As he did in his two governors races, Scott won his race by the tightest of margins after spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money campaigning.

He will join fellow Republican Marco Rubio in the Senate. Nelson's loss means Republicans hold every statewide office in Florida.

Contact McCarthy at 321-752-5018

or jmccarthy@floridatoday.com.

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