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Florida's Governor, Senate, Ag Races May Be Subjected To Recount

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - After graciously conceding the governor's race to Republican Ron DeSantis, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum may have a second chance.

Election departments across the state are still counting vote-by-mail, provisional, and overseas ballots.

Gillum is currently .12 percent away from a recount threshold. He just needs 500 vote swing toward his column.

State law requires a recount when candidates are within one-half point when all the votes are counted.

If it reaches .5 percent, it automatically triggers a statewide machine recount. If it goes within .25, it triggers a manual recount.

He could opt out of the recount but that would be unlikely given we have Senate and Agriculture commissioner races headed to recount.

Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson wants to proceed with 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 based on a Fox News report.

Nelson has not conceded. His campaign says it's preparing for a recount and will have observers in every one of the state's 67 counties to monitor the process.

Scott's lead narrowed slightly Wednesday morning to 34,537 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast — a margin of less than one half of 1 percent.

Chris Hartline, a spokesman for Scott's campaign, criticized the Nelson campaign for pushing ahead for a recount.

"This race is over," Hartline said. "It's a sad way for Bill Nelson to end his career. He is desperately trying to hold on to something that no longer exists."

In the state's Agriculture Commissioner race, the state elections website had Matt Caldwell with 50.08 percent of the vote to 49.92 percent for Nikki Fried, they were separated by 12,521 votes, or 0.16 percent, according to Fried's campaign.

Caldwell declared victory Tuesday night. Fried's campaign says not so fast.

"We are going to ensure that every vote is counted, in a race this close, everyone's' voices must be heard so the will of the people is upheld," said Fried in a statement.

Three legislative races also appear likely to require recounts.

In the state Senate, incumbent Republican Dana Young trailed by 289 votes at midday Wednesday to Democratic challenger Janet Cruz, the House minority leader. Young and Cruz are battling in Hillsborough County's Senate District 18.

In the House, Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff was up by 72 votes Wednesday morning over Democratic incumbent Patrick Henry of Daytona Beach in Volusia County's House District 26.

Also, in Palm Beach County, Republican Mike Caruso was up by 124 votes over Democrat Jim Bonfiglio for the House District 89 seat, which is open because Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, faces term limits.

Counties have until Saturday to turn in their first set of unofficial returns. If the margin remains under 0.5 percent at that point, then Secretary of State Ken Detzner is required to order the recount.

A recount must be conducted before noon November 18th, when the official returns are due from each county canvassing board.

The Florida Elections Canvassing Commission --- comprised of Scott and two Cabinet members --- is slated to meet 9 a.m. November 20th to certify the election results.

Florida was the scene of a monumental recount battle in 2000 that pitted scores of lawyers against each other in the presidential race. George W. Bush won the presidency by 537 Florida votes over Al Gore after the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declared an end to the counting.

(©2018 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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