Rick Scott Ousts Bill Nelson in Tight Florida Senate Race

Outgoing GOP governor defies polls and defeats incumbent Democrat, although the election is headed for a recount

Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is projected to defeat incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) Tuesday following a grueling campaign that became unsettlingly close in the swing state.

But Nelson’s campaign announced Wednesday morning that the election is headed for a recount, as Scott’s lead currently stands at less than the one-half percent threshold. The final recount must be completed by November 10, Politico reported.

Nelson (pictured above right) has served in the Senate since 2001. Scott (above left) became Florida’s governor in 2011 and was reelected in 2014, but could not run again due to term limits.

After initially leading Scott in the polls, Nelson began trailing behind Scott in late June, according to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) polling average. Scott led Nelson by two percentage points at most before Nelson surpassed him in late September. The two briefly tied in mid-to-late October before Nelson pulled ahead. The latest RCP average prior to Election Day showed Nelson with a 3.3 percent lead over Scott.

Nelson’s lead against Scott rose as enthusiasm surged around progressive star Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s (D) gubernatorial bid to replace Scott against Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). But the the incumbent senator ultimately could not stave off Scott in the notoriously purple state.

Trump, who carried Florida by a razor-thin margin of 1.2 percentage points during the 2016 presidential election, adamantly backed Scott’s Senate bid in the swing state.

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Related: ‘We’re Going to Win,’ Says Rick Scott — ‘There Is No Blue Wave’

“REMEMBER FLORIDA: I have been President of the United States for almost two years. During that time Senator Bill Nelson didn’t call me once. Rick Scott called constantly requesting dollars plus for Florida. Did a GREAT job on hurricanes. VOTE SCOTT!” Trump tweeted Monday.

The president also mocked Nelson Monday by paraphrasing comments from Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, tweeting, “‘Bill Nelson is kind of an empty figure in Washington. You never hear his name, he’s never in debates on key issues – he is just under the radar.’ Chris Wallace on @FoxNews In other words, Nelson is a ‘stiff.'”

Former President Barack Obama, who campaigned alongside Nelson and Gillum in Miami on Friday, warned Floridians that “the consequences of any of us staying home really are more dangerous.”

“Maybe most of all the character of our country is on the ballot,” Obama said.

But Scott predicted his victory Monday during an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” saying, “There’s no blue wave in this state.”

“Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson are very similar,” Scott added. “They’ve gone way off to the liberal end. They want to destroy, get rid of [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE. They want to have open borders. They want to raise your taxes. They never created a job, either one of them.”

Check out the video below:

This article has been updated. 

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