Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson conceded Florida’s race for U.S. Senate on Sunday, signaling the end of an 18-year run in Congress’ upper chamber and likely the close of a 46-year political career.
According to Gov. Rick Scott, who defeated Nelson in a race so close it required a manual recount, Nelson called to concede after the state posted official results in the race after 1 p.m. Nelson’s campaign released a video statement at 3 p.m.
“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 sent by his campaign shortly after 2 p.m. “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.”
Scott ultimately beat Nelson by 10,033 votes — or about 0.12 percent of the nearly 8.2 million votes cast in the race. The margin was so thin it triggered a mandatory machine recount on Nov. 10 and then an automatic manual recount Thursday.
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“I by no measure feel defeated. And that’s because I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life,” Nelson said in the recorded concession speech. “And I don’t think anyone could have been as blessed. It has been a rewarding journey as well as a very humbling experience. I was not victorious in this race, but I still wish to strongly re-affirm the cause for which we fought: A public office is a public trust.”
Scott’s win gives Republicans a stronger majority in the U.S. Senate. The race was the most expensive senate contest in Florida history.
Nelson, 76, was first elected to office in a state House district in Melbourne, near Cape Canaveral, in 1972. He went to space as a congressman in 1986 and served several stints as Florida’s elected insurance commissioner. He won his U.S. Senate seat in 2000 and was twice reelected.
Read more about Nelson here.