It was a tortuous road to get here, but honestly it could have been longer.
It was announced today that the statewide hand recount in the state of Florida was completed, and it has now been made official that Republican Rick Scott has defeated incumbent US Senator Bill Nelson. The contentious campaign had become a miasma of post-election vote dramatics and court cases.
The nation had been holding its breath collectively, while in Florida far more dramatic reactions were to be found. The specter of a long, drawn-out voting hand recount process, along with numerous accompanying lawsuits in the Sunshine State is one few would want to last for any duration. That this state managed to complete the hand tally in relatively efficient fashion without much more ensuing drama is nothing short of a surprise.
Florida actually had 6 races that had to go through a recount process, with the top two offices being US Senate and the governorship. On Saturday Democrat candidate Andrew Gillum conceded the victory to Ron DeSantis, the second time he had done so. After an election night bow the numbers continued to shrink, and the DeSantis lead crept down to a 0.5% margin. Gillum recanted his concession, hoping for a recount to generate more votes (a not unthinkable scenario given Broward County having a history of “discoveries”.)
By this afternoon the completion of the hand recount showed that outgoing governor Rick Scott held a lead of just over 10,000 votes. He announced in an email statement that Nelson had actually conceded. “I thanked him for his years of public service,” said the newest freshman Senator, referring to the man who has been in Florida politics since 1972.
For days now both candidates had been busy filing numerous lawsuits regarding the recount process. Scott had filed a few, mostly aimed at the embattled Broward County Elections office, and the Supervisor Of Elections, Brenda Snipes. Scott’s suits were targeting some questionable actions from that office regarding the handling and tabulation of ballots.
Nelson meanwhile had a swarm of Democratic Party lawyers descending on the state to challenge a variety of election statutes. Nelson, and the Democrats, had argued to have recount deadlines extended beyond those set by state law, and they argued to have a deadline for provisional ballots to be extended as well. In yet another suit the lawyers not only argued against a law that invalidated ballots with mismatched signatures, but they also requested the just toss out the signature requirement entirely and count all ballots “sight unseen”.
Ultimately the numerous court cases proved fruitless. The biggest hope Nelson had was here in Broward County, where it was expected he would make significant gains. That became a dashed dream when the machine counts reached the deadline on Thursday and, against expectations, not only did the totals come in lower but Nelson lost more ground.
The finality in Florida shows that the long-predicted Blue Wave did not actually materialize, and the Democrat party gains were more in line with traditional mid-term swings. The state has become a decidedly deeper shade of red, with only select few US House seats turning and very little change to the GOP-run state legislature. Not only is a President Trump acolyte moving into the governor’s mansion but now Florida has two Republican Senators for the first time since 1875.
In a piece of finality the Florida Democratic Party issued a statement of gratitude to Bill Nelson for his years of service.