Despite a strong fight, GOP comes out on top in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This was the year Florida’s Democrats spoke ambitiously of ending their 20-year journey in political exile in this battleground state. Instead, election results after a tense and bruising recount showed Republicans coming out on top for governor and even picking up a U.S. Senate seat.

After a recount dragged on for nearly two weeks, top Democratic candidates in the state came agonizingly close but fell short of their avowed goal.

Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum conceded Saturday, followed by three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson a day later. More than 8 million voters weighed in — a far higher turnout than in past midterm elections — but the result was the same for Democrats.

When official returns were posted Sunday, Republican Gov. Rick Scott led Nelson in the Senate race by slightly more than 10,000 votes. Republican Ron DeSantis edged Gillum, Florida’s first African-American nominee for governor, by more than 32,000 votes. State officials will certify the official results Tuesday.

The close of nearly two weeks of high political drama in the presidential swing state likely spelled the end of the political career of the 76-year-old Nelson. First elected to Congress 40 years ago, Nelson had been a Democratic survivor in an era when Republicans swept to power in Florida in the ’90s. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and seeking a fourth term.

“It has been a rewarding journey as well as a very humbling experience,” Nelson said in a videotaped statement . “I was not victorious in this race but I still wish to strongly re-affirm the cause for which we fought: A public office is a public trust.”

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