Too close to call in U.S. Senate race in Florida; Nelson calling for recount

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- UPDATE: Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson called Wednesday for a recount in his race for re-election against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

In a statement from Nelson's office, the longtime incumbent said Scott had prematurely declared victory in the race, which CNN has not yet called.

In Florida, an automatic recount is triggered when the final margin is less than .5%. Votes were still being counted Wednesday morning, but Scott's lead was within that margin, according to CNN projections. The initial vote count won't be finalized until Saturday at noon.

A spokesman for Scott chided Nelson over the request.
"This race is over. It's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career," Chris Hartline said in a statement. "He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists."

----------------------------------

The bruising and expensive U.S. Senate race between Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is too close to call and might be headed to a mandatory recount.

With all precincts reporting early Wednesday, Scott held a lead of 38,717 votes out of more than 8 million cast - a margin of less than one half of 1 percent. Under state law in Florida, a recount is mandatory if the winning candidate's margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Scott had declared victory during an election party in his home town of Naples late Tuesday when near-total results showed a thin lead, saying the campaign had been "divisive and tough" but that he vowed to change the direction of Washington D.C.

"Change is never popular. I tried to use every effort to change the state of Florida and together we did," Scott said.

However, Nelson did not publicly concede, instead having an aide tell supporters shortly after midnight that while many news reports were declaring Scott the victor, Nelson would have no statement until later Wednesday.

"This obviously is not the result Sen. Nelson and his campaign had worked so hard for," aide Pete Mitchell told remaining supporters at the election night event in Orlando.

The two candidates are heavyweights within each party: Nelson has withstood years of GOP dominance to remain the only Democrat elected statewide, while Scott is a two-term governor urged by President Donald Trump to take Nelson on.

Nelson was been viewed as one of the more vulnerable Democrats thanks to the formidable challenge from Scott, a multimillionaire businessman who has poured more than $60 million of his own fortune into his campaign.