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Bill Nelson concedes Florida Senate race to Rick Scott

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Sunday conceded the Florida Senate race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, ending...

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 1:13 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 1:13 PM

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."

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Nelson officially announced his concession in a taped statement on Sunday.

"I was not victorious in this race, but I still wish to strongly reaffirm the cause for which we fought, a public office is a public trust," he said.

Nelson added that he "by no measure feel(s) defeated" and reflected on his career in politics by saying he doesn't believe "anybody could have been as blessed."

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 acknowledged voting rights in his concession, an issue that was at the heart of both his and Gillum's messaging during the recount.

"We must end all forms of voter suppression, make it easier for Americans to vote and honor the idea that we are governed by the majority and not the minority," Nelson said.

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.

Nelson faced an onslaught of spending in a race that likely topped $100 million just for ads on TV, according to data from CMAG.

And he was a top target for President Donald Trump, who considers Florida one of his home states because of Mar-a-Lago, the private club he has owned since 1985. Trump made a pair of last-minute trips to Florida to help Scott, rallying with the Republican governor and DeSantis in Fort Myers and then Pensacola during the final week of the campaign.

Scott, who is independently wealthy, raised an eye-popping $68 million this cycle, burying Nelson's $27 million.

But the Democratic outside money came in for Nelson after the primary, with Senate Majority PAC investing nearly $17 million, Priorities USA backing him with just over $8 million and Majority Forward spending another $5 million on Nelson's behalf.

Guns and the environment took an outsized role in this race. Both Scott and Nelson pointed fingers at each other over toxic algae blooms impacting the state's waterways, hoping to woo a group of single-issue environmental voters in the state. And guns have played a large role in the state after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead.

But some of Nelson's most potent ads came in linking Scott to the President, attacks that put the governor on the defensive.

One Spanish-language ad for Nelson shows Scott shaking Trump's hand. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are "muy buenos amigos," the ad says -- very good friends.

The attacks seemingly worked, because Scott had to respond by distancing himself from the President.

"When I don't agree with what President Trump does or says, I've said it," Scott said in an ad. "My only commitment is with you."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37542

Reported Deaths: 1272
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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