Bill Nelson and Rick Scott.


Democrat concedes in closely watched Senate race in Florida

November 18, 2018 - 3:59 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (AP) -- Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has ended his bitterly close re-election bid by conceding the race to Republican Rick Scott.

Nelson gave up the fight Sunday to Florida's outgoing governor on a day when Florida's counties had to submit their official results. Those results showed that the three-term incumbent trailed Scott by more than 10,000 votes.

Nelson's concession capped tumultuous days of recounting and political tension in the perennial presidential swing state. It also will likely end the long-running political career of the 76-year-old Nelson. He was first elected to Congress nearly 40 years ago and then to the Senate in 2000.

RELATED: Democrat concedes in contentious race for Florida governor

Nelson and Democrats had filed several lawsuits over the recount, but a federal judge rejected most of them.

Florida will not officially certify the final totals until Tuesday.

President Donald Trump says Florida Republican Rick Scott “never wavered” in his bid to wrest away a U.S. Senate seat from the veteran Democrat on Capitol Hill.

Trump tweeted Sunday in support of Scott, writing, “He was a great Governor and will be even a greater Senator in representing the People of Florida. Congratulations to Rick on having waged such a courageous and successful campaign!”

On Saturday, Andrew Gillum, who tried to energize Florida's young and minority voters through a Democratic coalition seeking to end two decades of Republican control of the governor's office, ended his hard-fought campaign Saturday as the state's first black nominee for the post.

Gillum, whose refrain had been “bring it home” as he recounted stories of growing up poor in the state, concluded his campaign with a Facebook video he recorded alongside his wife in a park.

In his four-minute plus video, Gillum congratulated Republican Ron DeSantis and also vowed to remain politically active even though his term as mayor of the Florida capital of Tallahassee ends next week. Of his future plans, Gillum said: “stay tuned.”

Meanwhile, Florida's official vote count shows a Democrat appears to have narrowly won the race for state agriculture commissioner.

Results posted Sunday show after a recount Nikki Fried defeated Republican Matt Caldwell by 6,753 votes out of 8 million cast. That's about one vote out of every 2,000 cast.