Scott declares victory, but Florida Senate race still 'too close to call'

FLORIDA — The U.S. Senate race between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson is still statistically too close to call -- despite Scott calling the race for himself Tuesday night.

As of Thursday, Scott leads Nelson by almost 22,000 votes, leaving a margin of less than half of 1 percent between them. And ballots are still being counted in South Florida.

"I expect that to close further as the day progresses today," said Nelson's attorney, Marc Elias.

Elias said Thursday that those ballots, along with provisional ballots, could call for a hand recount.

If the Senate race remains tighter than a 0.5 percent difference, the state can order a machine recount, the results of which would be due a week from Thursday.

If those results are tighter than a 0.25 percent margin, there will be a recount by hand, and those results wouldn't be official until Nov. 18.

County elections offices have until Saturday to submit their unofficial totals.

Nelson put out a statement Wednesday calling for a recount.

A candidate himself cannot call for a recount, according state law. Only the secretary of state can do so.

Rick Scott's campaign responded by saying that the race is over.

"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," said Chris Hartline, spokesman for Scott for Florida.

Scott's campaign doubled down on Thursday, issuing a statement claiming that Nelson is trying to steal the election.
"It is sad and embarrassing that Bill Nelson would resort to these low tactics after the voters have clearly spoken," the release said. "Maybe next, he'll start ranting that Russians stole the election from him."

In a speech to supporters in Naples just before midnight on Tuesday, Scott said he was confident in his victory.

WATCH LIVE: Rick Scott addresses supporters

Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla) addresses supporters after a razor-thin Senate race against longtime Sen. Bill Nelson. LIVE INTERACTIVE RESULTS: https://at.wftv.com/2Dq6KU0

Posted by WFTV Channel 9 on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"We've done this for over 200 years, and after these campaigns we come together and that’s what we're gonna do, we come together," he said. "So thank you to all of you because everyone in this room has been a part of it.”

Nelson has not conceded the race, and never came out to speak to the crowd at his campaign watch party Tuesday night.

Nelson has served in the Senate since 2001, and before that in Congress since 1979.