RECOUNT IN STORE IN FLORIDA’S U.S. SENATE RACE?
8 a.m.: It may not matter much in the end, but an automatic recount is possibly in store in the extremely squeaky-close U.S. Senate race in Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican challenger, leads incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by less than 0.5% and that tiny margin points toward an automatic vote recount. The actual raw numbers Wednesday morning — with a trickle of absentee ballots possibly still to be tallied — put Scott ahead of Nelson by 34,435 votes with more than 8.1 million votes cast.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Nelson said Tuesday morning in a brief statement.
“This race is over,” said Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott’s campaign. “It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists.”
Even with an automatic vote recount, it may not be smart to bet on a different outcome, especially with optical scan ballots.
In other words, this likely won’t be a reprisal of Florida’s presidential election recount in 2000 when the manual counting of paper ballots and hanging chads gave George W. Bush a 537 vote edge over Al Gore.
Under state law there is no provision for candidates to request a recount, but a losing candidate can submit a written request that a recount not be held. That’s not likely to happen.
The recount can only be triggered by the margin of votes, and in this Senate race it appears to have been met.
Florida counties have to report first unofficial returns to the state no later than noon on Saturday, according to the Division of Elections. If a machine recount is ordered, second unofficial returns will be due no later than 3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. If any of the races are within a 0.25% margin, a manual recount would then be ordered.
Just before midnight Tuesday, Scott held a nearly a 1-percent lead over Nelson but as more Florida precincts reported their results, the margin tightened.
“It’s just hard to believe that we’re here now,” Scott said on election night. “Now that this campaign is behind us that’s where we’re going to leave it.”
RECOUNT ALSO LIKELY IN AG COMMISSIONER RACE
8:30 a.m.: The super-tight race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services could have a recount in its future.
Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican challenger, leads Fort Lauderdale attorney and lobbyist Nicole “Nikki” Fried by about 0.16 percentage points as of Wednesday morning. The threshold for a manual recount is 0.25 points.
The actual raw numbers Wednesday morning — with a trickle of absentee, military and overseas ballots possibly still to be tallied — put Caldwell ahead of Fried by just 12,521 votes, with just under 8 million votes cast.
— SAMANTHA GROSS
DESPITE GOV LOSS, DEMS CROW ABOUT HOUSE GAINS
8:30 a.m.: Florida Democrats suffered a stinging loss — yet again — in the governor’s race with Ron DeSantis narrowly beating Andrew Gillum.
But at least the Dems had something to crow about after the midterm elections: a bunch of new seats in the state House.
“With nearly 10 new Democratic members in the Florida House of Representatives, these string of midterm victories, following this year’s special election wins, shows that voters are looking for leaders that reflect their values,” said incoming House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee. “This cycle, Florida House Democrats competed in 90 percent of Florida’s state House districts and made gains against the odds.”
Florida House Victory spotlighted these Democratic gains in five open seats: District 47, Anna Eskamani; District 63, Fentrice Driskell; District 69, Jennifer Webb, District 84, Delores Hogan Johnson; District 103, Cindy Polo.
FHS also highlighted Democratic wins over GOP incumbents in these three seats: District 30, Joy Goff-Marcil; District 44, Geraldine Thompson; District 59, Adam Hattersley.
Two House seats are headed for a vote recount: District 26, Democratic State Rep. Patrick Henry and Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff; District 89, Democrat Jim Bonfiglio and Republican Mike Caruso.
CHANGING CONGRESSIONAL FACES IN MIAMI-DADE
8:30 a.m.: Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell became the first non-Cuban to defeat a Cuban-American member of Congress from Miami, when she beat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo Tuesday. Mucarsel-Powell is Ecuadorean-American.
That Cuban American political streak began with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s first reelection in 1990. She chose not to seek reelection this year.
Coupled with Democrat Donna Shalala’s victory over Cuban Maria Elvira Salazar for an open seat last night, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is the only Cuban from Miami in the House of Representatives.
— ALEX DAUGHERTY