Nearly two weeks after Election Day, Republican Gov. Rick Scott's victory in Florida's U.S. Senate race is official. Scott was declared the winner Sunday afternoon by 10,033 votes.
Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, behind Scott by more than 50,000 votes on Election night, never could make up the difference even after a mess of voting irregularities surfaced in South Florida, conceded to Scott Sunday, recording a YouTube video in which he acknowledged defeat.
Nelson called Scott to concede, the latter said in a statement. President Trump congratulated Scott in a tweet, writing: "From day one Rick Scott never wavered. He was a great governor and will be even a greater senator in representing the people of Florida."
It marks the end of a long and at-times messy vote recount that drew national attention amid reported irregularities in vote counting by county officials, problems with tabulation machines and missed deadlines, particularly in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
It also marks the end of Democrats' hopes in Florida's two high-profile elections this year. On Saturday, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the governor's race. In defeat, Gillum drew praise from Trump on Twitter. Recounting had stopped in that race after Thursday's official machine recount.
Despite the tens of millions of dollars liberal out-of-state billionaires injected into Florida to flip the Republican state, the only Democratic candidate elected to statewide office was Nikki Fried, a lawyer-lobbyist with no governing experience, who will run the 4,000+-employee Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Florida's 67 counties faced a noon Sunday deadline to finish hand-recounting ballots in the Senate and state agriculture-commissioner races. All of them made it, the Florida Department of State told ABC News.
In Broward, Scott had sued Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes successfully over her failure to provide results on time after Election Day. Her office reportedly had 22 provisional ballots that shouldn't have been counted, within a batch of 205. On Thursday, the county failed to upload results to a state website after the first round of recounting, missing the deadline by two minutes.
Over the weekend, after Snipes' office had completed recounting in the Senate race on Friday but continued recounting in the state's agriculture commissioner race, she acknowledged her staff may have misplaced more than 2,000 ballots as it sought to finalize totals in that state-level race. Senate tallies had already been completed.
"The ballots are in the building," she said at a canvassing board meeting on Saturday, seeking to reassure those in attendance. "The ballots are in the building."
In Palm Beach, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said her counting machines overheated and stopped working multiple times, as the county raced to meet the state's 3 p.m. Thursday deadline in the machine recount. Palm Beach missed that deadline on Thursday and had to continue running the machines afterward. The manufacturer of the machines pushed back, suggesting county officials were running the machines in an unusual way, in comments to The Palm Beach Post.
Palm Beach made Sunday's deadline by one second, Palm Beach Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher told ABC affiliate WPBF, showing a readout of her office's upload of results to the state website reading 11:59:59.
Two rounds of recounting had ensued after Scott and Nelson were separated by just .15 percentage points after Election Day -- a narrow enough margin to trigger an automatic machine recount. With the race still close enough after Florida's first round of recounting concluded on Thursday, county election officials hand-examined a subset of votes since Friday, in some cases racing to meet the deadline.
Here are some of the statements released after Sunday's recount made the election final:
Gov. Rick Scott. "I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service. This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people. Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it. We must do what Americans have always done: come together for the good of our state and our country. My focus will not be on looking backward, but on doing exactly what I ran on: Making Washington Work. I know change is never popular in Washington and that I’m just one person – but we have to start somewhere. Over the past eight years, we brought great change to Florida. Now, we have the opportunity to do even more. Let’s get to work."
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party. "Senator Bill Nelson has led with integrity, humility, courage, and vision -- always putting the best interests of Floridians first. From fighting for better schools and health care, to protecting our environment, Senator Nelson has always stood for what is right. Florida is better because of his leadership. We want to thank Senator Nelson for his years of service, and his leadership to our party. The sacrifices he made to serve this state, and our nation, will not be in vain.”
Taryn Fenske, Republican National Committee spokesperson. “Democrat dreams of turning Florida blue have fallen short once again. Congrats to Senator-elect Rick Scott, on winning a hard fought election, not once or twice, but three times.”
Cory Gardner, chairman, National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Today’s results make official what we’ve known since Election Day -- Governor Rick Scott will be the next United States Senator for the great state of Florida. Voters chose Governor Scott to represent them in Washington because Florida has prospered under his strong leadership, and we have no doubt the state will continue to thrive with Rick Scott in the United States Senate.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. "No two Senators from the same state had a better working relationship than the one Senator Nelson and I had. Even though we often voted differently, not once did that interfere with our ability to work together. In this era of political tribalism, it is easy to forget that there is more to any of us than our political affiliation or our policy leanings. I knew Bill Nelson not just as a Democratic Senator, but also as a man of genuine faith, integrity and character. A man who served our country with a dignity that is increasingly rare in our modern politics. I will miss working with him very much."