Gillum Campaign: 'Ready For Any Outcome,' Including Recount

Nov 8, 2018

Based on Thursday afternoon unofficial election returns, it's looking like the governor's race is headed toward a recount along with the high profile U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races.

Gillum Communications Director Johanna Cervone made the following statement on the tightening result in the Florida governor’s race as final votes are counted:

"On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count. Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported. Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount. Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted."

Related: Statewide And County-By-County Election Returns

Tuesday night the Democratic candidate for governor, who is Tallahassee's mayor, conceded the race to former Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis, who delcared victory.

According a check with the Florida Division of Elections at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, the unofficial vote total at that time showed DeSantis winning 49.62 to 49.15 percent with a total of 8,200,645 votes cast in the race. 

Some other Florida races also had razor thin margins, including the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbant Bill Nelson and outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who declared victory.

Nelson said declaring victory was premature on Wednesday and pointed out Florida law requires a recount when candidates are within one-half point. 

"We are proceeding to a recount," Sen. Nelson said Wednesday morning, in a brief statement.

Thursday Marc Elias, a lawyer for the Nelson campaign said, "While we look to work cooperatively with the county and we want to establish good working relationships with all of the counties, where they don't comply with the law, or where they don't provide the information that is required, we will bring legal action." 

Elias is no stranger to suing the State of Florida. He has previously sued and prevailed multiple times over the past several years, on issues ranging from redistricting to early voting. 

Elias predicted the vote share will increase for Democrats as provisional ballots are counted.    

"I am confident, based on experience in virtually every state - including some pretty red states - that provisional ballots, when they are counted accurately, are going to break Democratic"  He said.

Elias said that historically “we have seen that more Democrats are put in the provisional category than Republicans.”

There could also be a recount in the race for Agriculture Commissioner between Republican Matt Caldwell and Nikki Fried, where Fried had pulled ahead of Caldwell by 4 p.m. Thursday, despite it appearing as though Fried had lost Tuesday night. 

Fried's campaign released a statement Thursday, saying, " Our race is too close to call and we’re down to a slim margin of just 0.1%. We're beginning a recount and we need your support now more than ever. We need volunteers to help us monitor canvassing boards and phone bank for provisional ballots in key counties throughout the state. As all the votes are counted, there’s a chance we could win."

Once it is legally determined a race is eligible for a recount, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee, must order a recount before it can begin.

Unofficials returns are due from the county canvassing boards no later than noon on Saturday, according to the Florida Department of State.

If any federal, state or multicounty races are within a statutory threshold of one-half of one percent at that time, then the Secretary of State and Division of Elections will order a machine recount, making it likely there will be recounts of multiple races in Florida.

More information about Florida's recount requirements is available on this state webpage.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.