TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A bitter and expensive clash between Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson remains too close to call, despite Scott’s declaration of victory.
Nelson has not conceded. His campaign says it’s preparing for a recount and will have observers in every one of the state’s 67 counties to monitor the process.
Scott’s lead narrowed slightly Wednesday morning to 34,537 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast — a margin of less than one half of 1 percent. Under state law in Florida, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is 0.5 percentage points or less.
Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott’s campaign, criticized the Nelson campaign for pushing ahead for a recount.
“This race is over,” Hartline said. “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.”
But the recount is automatic unless Nelson agrees to forgo it. Counties have until Saturday to turn in their first set of unofficial returns. If the margin remains under 0.5 percent at that point, then Secretary of State Ken Detzner is required to order the recount.
Florida was the scene of a monumental recount battle in 2000 that pitted scores of lawyers against each other in the presidential race. George W. Bush won the presidency by 537 Florida votes over Al Gore after the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declared an end to the counting.