Florida’s newest U.S. Senator is Governor Rick Scott. He defeated incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in a close and contentious election.
Numerous lawsuits over the U.S. Senate race did little to change the outcome. Scott led Nelson on Election Day and while the margin tightened following two state-mandated recounts it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit between the candidates. Sunday, Nelson conceded.
"I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service,” Scott said in a statement released by his campaign shortly after the noon deadline for counties to certify their election results.
“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.
Florida’s U.S. Senate race was one of the most watched. Nelson was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000 after serving in the Florida House and the U.S. House of Representatives. While in Congress in 1986 he went to space on the shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist. Nelson lost a bid for Florida governor in 1990.
In his concession speech, Nelson urged a continued push for bipartisanship, protecting the environment and voting rights, and access to healthcare. He also weighed in on the present political climate.
“We have to move beyond a politics that aims not just to defeat but to destroy; where truth is treated as disposable, where falsehoods abound, and the free press is assaulted as the ‘enemy of the people,'" Nelson said.
“There’s been a gathering darkness in our politics in recent years. My hope today can be found in the words of John F. Kennedy, who said civility can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future."
For nearly eight years Nelson was Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat. Scott defeated him by about 10,000 votes.