TAMPA, Fla. — Florida has learned the identity of its new governor, and it is Ron DeSantis. Meanwhile, current Gov. Rick Scott is claiming victory over incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in that race.
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Sen. Rick Nelson will talk about the race sometime Wednesday. Most everyone had left his campaign location late Tuesday night.
Scott thanked families and supporters in what appeared to be a victory speech. Nelson did not deliver a speech Tuesday night.
"Now that this campaign is behind us, that's where we're going to leave it," Scott said.
"Together we reinvented government in Florida and we're going to do the same in D.C.," he said. "We will change, like we did in Florida, the direction of Washington, D.C."
With 99.85 percent of precincts reporting, Scott had 4,047,079 votes, while Nelson had 3,990,719.
Calling it the "greatest professional honor of my life," Ron DeSantis celebrated late Tuesday night his winning of the Florida governor seat.
"I was at peace knowing that I worked as hard as I possibly could and I left everything out on the field," he said of campaign, adding that it was "not bad for a kid who started out making $6 an hour.
On his opponent, Andrew Gillum, DeSantis said: "He was a very formidable appointment and I wish him the best in his future endeavors."
DeSantis said the "pundit class" gave him no chance when he launched his campaign.
"But on Election Day it's the voice of the people that rules."
Andrew Gillum has conceded the governor race to Ron DeSantis.
"Earlier this evening I called Mr. Ron DeSantis and congratulated him on what we expect will be the next governor of the great state of Florida," Gillum said.
"We could not be prouder of the way we ran this race," he said. "We could not be more thankful for the support that was shown by each and everyone of you along this path. We didn't win it tonight. We didn't win this transaction .... but what we believe in still holds true today."
Republicans will keep control of the U.S. Senate, CNN reports.
Ashley Moody won the heated Attorney General race over Sean Shaw, who was giving his concession speech just before 10 p.m.
"I will remember everyday that the voters have trusted me with a great power and I will remember along with that comes great responsibility," Moody said. I will always remember that it is not about me, it is about you and ensuring at the end of the day I defend the rights that ensure that you are in charge."
Shaw encouraged his supporters to stay strong and keep fighting for their beliefs.
"Do not despair. The response is not to give up. It's to try harder," he said. "If you give up, imagine what happens to the next generation."
Amendment 13, which phases out commercial dog racing in Florida by 2021, has passed. | MORE AMENDMENT RESULTS
Florida voters have approved Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences (but not felons convicted of murder or sex crimes).
Felons in most other states had this right.
The measure restores voting rights to 1.5 million Floridians.
Florida Amendment 12, which expands lobbying restrictions, passes with 78.6 percent of the vote.
Amendment 3 passes with 71.3% of the vote. Puts casino gambling decisions under voter control.
Amendment 4 results at 8:27 p.m.: (Restore felon voting rights) Yes 64 percent, No 36 percent
Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan wins re-election. His district includes Manatee County.
Ron DeSantis leads Andrew Gillum in governor's race with 60 percent of precincts reporting.
Democratic Rep. Darren Soto has been re-elected.
Soto's district covers parts of Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Winter Haven in Osceola and Polk counties.
AP says Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis, who represents parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties, has won re-election.
Incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist, who represents part of Pinellas County, wins re-election.
The Associated Press has called U.S. House district 11 for incumbent Republican Daniel Webster. He represents parts of Hernando County and Citrus County.
Polls closed in the Bay area but were still open in the Panhandle.
Voter turnout numbers
PINELLAS COUNTY as of 6:10 p.m.
Total Ballots Cast: 424,910
Turnout: 63.72 percent
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY as of 6:10 p.m.
Total Ballots Cast: 857,266
Turnout: 59.38 percent
MANATEE COUNTY as of 6:10 p.m.
Total Ballots Cast: 159,393
Turnout: 65.04 percent
HERNANDO COUNTY of 6:10 p.m.
Total ballots cast: 80,065
Turnout: 59.81 percent
CITRUS COUNTY as of 6:10 p.m.
Total Ballots Cast: 70,854
Turnout: 64.77 percent
PASCO COUNTY as of 6:10 p.m.
Total ballots cast: 208,939
Turnout: 59.39 percent
As of 5:30 p.m., here are the number of registered voters that had cast a ballot (either Tuesday or before)
- Pinellas: 62 percent
- Hillsborough: 58 percent
- Pasco: 57 percent
- Manatee: 63 percent
- Hernando: 58 percent
- Citrus: 63 percent
Many residents decided to wait until Tuesday for the Election Day experience.
"I feel it just makes it more real to you and you're reading what is on the amendments and everything, instead of just, like, doing it at home," said voter Karli Castellon. "You're actually coming out to vote and it's important to vote."
"For a midterm gubernatorial election we're seeing record-breaking numbers," said Dustin Chambers, an election official in Pinellas County. "In 2014 we saw about 40 percent of what we're seeing today. In 2016 we're at 80 percent of what we we saw then. The numbers are incredible and we're looking forward to them being incredible throughout the day."
Gov. Rick Scott on Twitter: Power has been restored to every family and business in the Panhandle who lost power and are able to receive it. This is great news for our communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. Thank you to the more than 19,000 utility workers who helped make this restoration possible!
Power temporarily went out at a polling place in Wesley Chapel.
The outage affected the 38th precinct in Pasco County, though Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said backup plans are in place for incidents, and there was no interruption in voting.
Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative restored power a short time later, Corley said.
A 55-year-old Melbourne man was arrested Monday night after Brevard County deputies say he called in a bomb threat to the county Supervisor of Elections Office because he was mad at all of the political candidates' unsolicited calls.
Daniel Chen has been charged with making a false bomb report and is being held at the Brevard County Jail on $15,000 bond, deputies say.
Brevard deputies said that the Supervisor of Elections Office called them Monday afternoon after it got a phone threat. The caller, identified by deputies as Chen, threatened to "blow up" the office because he was getting a lot of unsolicited calls from candidates.
Chen also provided his name and number, deputies say. He was taken into custody without incident.
Early voting numbers show that Democrats have a slide lead right now.
Pre-election data shows that Democrat voters outnumber Republican voters by a little over 24,000 votes, and this is the first time that's been the case in 14 years.
This time around, voters have a lot to decide on. Florida's ballot has one of the longest lists of proposed constitutional changes in decades.
There are 12 constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot, the most since 1998.
And in some cases, measures have been grouped together, so voters will have to choose to approve or reject unrelated proposals that have been linked in one amendment.
For instance, Admendment 9 lumps together a ban on both vaping indoors and offshore oil and gas drilling.
But with all the races and amendments, experts say many will leave them blank.
"Voters sometimes say, 'You know, I know this candidate, I have heard of them, I heard from them. I don't know anybody else so I am not gonna vote for them," Democratic political analyst Ed Narain said.
Narain describes that practice as undervoting. An under vote is when a person casts a ballot but doesn't vote in every race.
For instance, someone may be very familiar with the Governor's race and vote in that, but skip the Senate and other key races.
With several tight races and referendums on the ballot, under votes could swing at least some of them.
"What you see a lot of times is the candidate will message to their voter to pull them out and sometimes they don't talk about the down ballot races, and if that occurs you are going to see a lot of under votes," Narain said.
Those down ballot races include the Attorney General race and many of the state house and legislative seats.
Narain said independents, who are most likely to leave some races blank on their ballots, will once again drive the wins and losses today.
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