Recounts ordered in Florida Senate, governor races

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum gives his concession speech as he is joined on stage by his wife R. Jai Gillum, right, and running mate Chris King and his wife Kristen Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. Gillum lost the Florida governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida faced the prospect of recounts in the razor-thin races for governor and U.S. Senate.

In the governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign said Thursday it’s prepared for a possible recount. He conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night, though the margin of the race has since tightened. As of Thursday afternoon, DeSantis held a lead of 0.47 percentage point over Gillum.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson has already started preparing for a potential recount in a race that remains too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson’s lawyer called that race a “jump ball” — though Scott’s campaign urged Nelson to concede. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson Thursday afternoon.

The tight races underscored Florida’s status as a perennial swing state where elections are often decided by the thinnest of margins. Since 2000, when Florida decided the presidency by 537 votes in a contest that took more than five weeks to sort out, the state has seen many close elections, but never so many dead heats in one year.

Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, said she didn’t know of any other recount in a governor or Senate race in Florida history. She was researching the subject Thursday.

Under Florida law, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage points when the first unofficial count is verified Saturday by Florida’s secretary of state.

In yet a third statewide seat — the Cabinet position of agriculture commissioner — the candidates were separated by only 483 votes out of more than 8 million cast or a margin of 0.006 percent.

Gillum’s campaign said it’s monitoring the situation with an elections lawyer and preparing for a possible state-mandated recount. He hired attorney Barry Richard, who represented President George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential recount.

At an event in Hialeah Gardens, DeSantis declined to discuss prospects for a recount, telling reporters he was “very proud to be elected on Tuesday night.”

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