Sen. Bill Nelson is trailing in his race against GOP challenger Rick Scott, but said Wednesday he will not concede, and will await a state-required recount before making any decision.
Mr. Scott, the current governor, claimed victory just after midnight when he held a razor-thin lead. A recount is automatically triggered when the vote margin is less than half a percentage point.
Mr. Scott’s lead stood at 0.4 percent, or less than 50,000 votes out of 8 million counted. When Mr. Scott, 65, won re-election as Florida governor in 2014, he did so by 60,000 votes.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Mr. Nelson, 76, said in a brief statement. He is seeking his fourth term.
While Florida has an infamous history with recounts stemming from the 2000 presidential election, some experts had predicted this outcome after neither candidate was able to sustain a polling lead throughout the campaign.
The Nelson campaign vowed hawkish vigilance of the recount process in all 67 counties, and less than an hour after announcing his intentions, Mr. Nelson sent an email blast asking for donations.
“We expect the supervisors, regardless of their party affiliation, will discharge their constitutional duties,” said Marc Elias in a campaign statement. Mr. Elias, an election lawyer, is now on the Nelson team, the statement said.
The Scott campaign suggested it was a fruitless effort by Mr. Nelson to cling to his job.
“This race is over. It’s a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career,” Scott campaign spokesman Chris Hartline said. “He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists.”
Florida’s secretary of state had no comment