Fla., Ga. races still have no clear winner
Recounts may loom in contests for governor, U.S. Senate race in Fla.
Three high-profile races in the South still don’t have clear victors, days after Tuesday’s midterm elections. Governor’s races in Georgia and Florida and a
U.S. Senate race in Florida on Friday were all near or below the thresholds to trigger recounts.
Florida governor: Despite one of the candidates conceding on election night, the Florida governor’s race tightened into a margin that could require a recount.
Former Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led by 0.47 percentage point, a margin that would require a recount under Florida law. A recount is mandatory if the winning candidate’s margin is less than 0.5 percentage point when the first unofficial count is verified Saturday by Florida’s secretary of state.
Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, trailed by about 1 percentage point and fewer than 80,000 votes when he conceded Tuesday. As the vote gap narrowed, Gillum said he wanted to see every vote counted, indicating he would not stand in the way of a recount.
DeSantis has mostly stayed out of the fray, saying he was working on plans for taking office in January.
U.S. Senate in Florida: The razor-thin Senate race erupted into outright partisan warfare Friday as Democrats pressed for a recount and Republicans — including President Donald Trump — accused local election officials of tilting the outcome against them.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott held a razor-thin lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
On Friday, Scott led by 0.21 percentage point, low enough to require a hand recount under state law. Florida’s secretary of state will verify the first unofficial count Saturday.
Scott said “unethical liberals” were trying to steal the election in Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach County. The governor filed lawsuits in both counties seeking more information on how their ballots were being tallied.
Nelson filed his own federal lawsuit Friday, seeking to postpone the Saturday deadline to submit unofficial election results.
A judge on Friday sided with Scott and ordered Broward County’s election supervisor to release the voter information sought by the governor.
Republicans offered no evidence that fraud was to blame for a diminishing lead in heavily
Democratic Broward County in South Florida, where the stillunfinished counting of absentee and provisional ballots narrowed Scott’s statewide lead.
The margin was expected to trigger a recount of ballots, which could begin as early as Saturday in counties across the state. But it has also prompted an uproar from Republicans.
In addition, protesters took to the sidewalks outside the county’s election offices in Lauderhill to demand the ouster of Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward, who has faced a string of accusations over the last decade over mismanaged elections.
“It’s a mob scene,” said William Scherer, a Republican attorney representing Scott and who worked for George W. Bush in the recount during the 2000 presidential election. “This is like déjà vu all over again.”
Both campaigns filed lawsuits Thursday. Scott accused Broward and Palm Beach county election officials of fraud, but offered no evidence beyond procedural errors and Scott’s dwindling vote margin.
Georgia governor: Trump on Friday threw fresh support behind Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, whose too-close-to-call race with Democrat Stacey Abrams devolved into chaos amid reports of voting irregularities and missing or uncounted ballots.
With election officials still tallying votes, Trump declared Kemp the winner and called for the gubernatorial transition to begin.
Kemp “ran a great race in Georgia — he won,” the president wrote on Twitter. “It is time to move on!”
Trump endorsed Kemp’s general election bid in October, calling Abrams “totally unqualified” and saying she would “destroy a great state.”
Kemp first declared victory over Abrams on Wednesday night, as a flurry of reports described lengthy voting lines, missing or inoperable equipment, and a dearth of provisional ballots in key precincts during the previous day’s election.
The Associated Press still has not called the race, and Abrams, vowing to fight until every ballot is processed, has not conceded.
Kemp led Abrams by about 63,000 votes Friday, holding 50.3 percent to Abrams’s 48.7 percent. His lead had narrowed as more votes were counted.
If neither candidate wins 50 percent by the time all votes are counted, the race will advance to a runoff.
Kemp’s role as Georgia secretary of state before and during the election has come under scrutiny, as voting rights advocates accused him of using his position to influence the gubernatorial race. Kemp has denied allegations of impropriety and resigned from his post midday Thursday.
Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo announced a preliminary legal victory, saying that a judge had issued a stay in the certification of results in Dougherty County following a lawsuit by the campaign. The county was hard hit by Hurricane Michael, prompting reports of offices being closed and absentee ballots being sent late.
At a news conference in Atlanta, Groh-Wargo said the campaign’s voter protection hotline had received thousands of calls attesting to voting problems that disproportionately affected people of color, students and registered Democrats.
“Voter suppression looks a lot of different ways,” she said, accusing Kemp of “Old South tactics.”
Kemp on Thursday defended his handling of the election.
“The integrity of the process has been clear in Georgia,” he said after announcing his resignation. “The election integrity is beyond doubt.”
Abrams is running to be the country’s first female black governor in a contest that was characterized by ugly racial overtones.
Results were too close to call Friday in Georgia’s governor’s race pitting Democrat Stacey Abrams against Republican Brian Kemp.