Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded Saturday to GOP challenger Ron DeSantis in their contentious race for the Florida governor’s mansion.
The announcement from Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, came via a Facebook Live post made alongside his wife.
Gillum said he wanted "to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida."
"I want to congratulate @RonDeSantisFL on becoming the next Governor of the great state of Florida. My wife R. Jai and I could not be prouder of the way we ran this race," Gillum tweeted. "Most importantly, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for being part of this campaign. I wouldn’t be here without the support that was shown by millions of Floridians. I encourage y’all to keep fighting for what we believe in."
Gillum had conceded to DeSantis on election night, but retracted it after the margin between the two candidates narrowed. The race went to a legally required recount, but after an initial machine recount, DeSantis still led Gillum by more than 30,000 votes.
In his Facebook post, Gillum said that "although nobody wanted to be governor more than me, this was not just about an election cycle."
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"This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government and our state and our communities," he said. "We know that this fight continues in spite of the outcome of this election, R.J. and I are committing ourselves alongside each and every one of you."
The numbers changed but not significantly as Duval County election workers completed the hand recount of votes cast in the contentious contests for U.S. senator and state agriculture commissioner.
In response to Gillum's concession, DeSantis tweeted: "This was a hard-fought campaign. Now it's time to bring Florida together."
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. Fox News Heather Lacy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Since Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been privately exhorting President Trump to Twitter-bomb his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, in hopes of muscling the incumbent Democrat out of a tight Senate race tangled in a recount.
Ron DeSantis, a Trump acolyte who finally prevailed Saturday in the governors race against the Democratic nominee, Mayor Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, has urged the opposite.
It will mark the first time since the direct election of U.S. senators began more than a century ago that both Florida senators will be Republican — Scott and Marco Rubio. And it brings to a close one of the longest careers in the history of Florida politics and one of the last vestiges of the Democratic Party of a bygone era.
While the president was in Paris last week, Mr. DeSantis let the White House know, through intermediaries, that Mr. Trumps incendiary tweets accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election were hurting and not helping, according to Republicans and administration officials with knowledge of the situation.
The difference may be not only in style, but in mission: Mr. Scott believes he is preparing to stride into the fractious partisan battleground of the United States Senate. Mr. DeSantis is preparing to govern the nations third-largest state — Mr. Gillum conceded the race Saturday after a recount.
In a period of hyper-partisanship, Nelson bet that voters would gravitate toward the congressman who rose so far above the political fray, he made it to space; the Democrat who affectionately calls his Republican counterpart “Marco;” the candidate who branded himself “Floridas independent senator.”
Breaking with the most powerful Republicans in his state, Mr. DeSantis has grown frustrated with the bombastic attacks on Democrats launched by Mr. Trump, Mr. Scott and Senator Marco Rubio, believing it will erode confidence in elections and spark a Democratic backlash, according to two Florida Republicans who have spoken with him in recent days.
Mr. Trump, for the moment, seems to have gotten the message. Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race, the president said Saturday on Twitter.
“He couldve done more to capitalize on that,” said Ione Townsend, executive director of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party. “Bill just wasnt the limelight seeker and was steady and did his job. Its a new day in politics and we have to learn to play the game better.”
Mr. DeSantis, 40, is intent on turning down the temperature in perpetually overheated Florida. The former congressman, who was rattled by charges he cultivated the support of white supremacists and criticized for a quip his opponents interpreted as a veiled racial slur, is eager to move on. He is seeking a quick rapprochement with Mr. Gillum, who has yet to accept Mr. DeSantiss offer to discuss their differences, people close to the two candidates said.
Take SunPass. The tolling system broke down in early June and for weeks Scott had few answers as motorists across the state couldnt access their accounts and were charged late fees. Nelson waited until late July to call for an investigation and barely mentioned it after.
But Mr. DeSantis — a relative unknown before this even to those in his own party, though he served three terms in Congress — is seeking to assert his independence.
He ran as a conservative in the mold of a Rick Scott and a Donald Trump. But I also think that hes making it clear that he plans to be independent, that he is going to do some things differently, said Joe Gruters, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives from Sarasota who co-chaired Mr. Trumps campaign in the state in 2016.
“He was able to prevail in statewide elections because he works hard at it, he understands public service and he loves Florida,” said Nelsons long-time aide Pete Mitchell. “But we were in an environment thats very difficult, with so much tribal behavior.”
Privately, Florida Republicans said he ran a lackluster race for the governorship, and Democrats — who know him mostly from his frequent appearances on Fox News in recent years defending Mr. Trump — expressed skepticism that he would reach across party lines as he has promised.
Right now a lot of people, and Im talking about Republicans as well as Democrats, see him as an appendage of Trump, said State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, a Democrat who represents Coral Gables and Key Biscayne. We all know very little about him. His platform during the campaign was virtually nonexistent. So I hope hes serious when he talks about reaching out to all Floridians.
Unlike Mr. Scott, who has been on television leveling accusations of rampant fraud and urging his opponent to step down, and Mr. Gillum, who launched an oratorical tour of black churches across Florida in the wake of the campaign, Mr. DeSantis has remained largely out of public view since Election Day. He traveled to Tallahassee to set up his transition team and delivered a single statement on video ahead of the litigious recount, noting his lead in the first batch of unofficial results posted a week ago.
He will have to manage a more partisan State House, where Democrats gained some seats this year, and a more evenly divided State Senate, which traditionally has acted as a moderating chamber. Mr. Scott was first elected during the Tea Party wave of 2010 and tried to pass a hard-line immigration bill the following year; the Senate kept him from doing so.
Mr. DeSantis met on Thursday with State Sen. Bill Galvano, the incoming Senate president, who told reporters on Friday that the governor-elect will inevitably face a learning curve.
Theres a big difference between what we do here in Tallahassee and what they do in Washington, he said. Im confident hell get his footing as we go. But there are some things that I think he will have to discover.
Tackling the states election laws is a possibility, given the weaknesses in the system exposed by the roller coaster of a recount.
Weve had too many problems through too many cycles, said Mr. Galvano, who represents the Bradenton area.
He will be able to appoint three justices to the state Supreme Court, a coup for conservatives. The three term-limited justices scheduled to leave the court are relatively liberal; the court ruled before the election that Mr. Scott would not be empowered to replace them and that the task of naming new justices would fall to the next governor. Mr. DeSantis campaigned on the appointments, promising to give the moderate court a hard conservative bent.
The appointments, which his aides said are likely to take place on the same day Mr. DeSantis is sworn in, will give conservatives a 6-to-1 advantage on the states highest court, which would likely remove a final barrier to the Republican-controlled Florida legislature, and give the party a potentially insurmountable edge on likely battles of reapportionment stemming from the 2020 census — though Floridas constitution requires the drawing of fair, nonpartisan districts.
People have no idea how huge that is, said Mr. Gruters. Hes going to appoint people in their 40s and they are going to be on the bench for 20 years.
In Washington, Mr. DeSantis was known as a loner who did not make many close friends on Capitol Hill. He has little firsthand knowledge of Tallahassee, having never served in state government or spent much time wooing the Republican establishment in the State Capitol, which overwhelmingly favored his primary rival, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Still, he could rely on his well-liked lieutenant governor-elect, State Representative Jeanette Nuñez of Miami, to navigate the statehouse. Of course, Tallahassee insiders thought Mr. Scott would do that, too, in his second term, with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative.
Instead, Mr. Scott, the Senate seat likely already in his sights, mostly sidelined Mr. Lopez-Cantera and kept the power and spotlight for himself.
After pulling off an impressive upset over Mr. Putnam, he kicked off the first day of the general election by declaring on Fox News that in view of the Republican-led state governments economic successes, the last thing we need to do is monkey this up. That was seen as a reference to Mr. Gillum, the first African-American candidate a major party has nominated for governor in the states history.
It prompted a shake-up of his campaign. But the low point for Mr. DeSantis came at a debate with Mr. Gillum in October, when he mishandled a question about his refusal to return a campaign contribution from a donor who had used a racial slur to describe President Obama.
Im not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. Im simply saying the racists believe hes a racist, Mr. Gillum said, as Mr. DeSantis stood stunned at the platform.
That moment seems to have strongly influenced Mr. DeSantiss behavior since the election, according to people in his orbit.
On election night he declared himself the unambiguous winner but added, It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law, which is the foundation for our nation.