A tight race for the U.S. Senate was decided Tuesday in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott sought to unseat incumbent Senator Bill Nelson. The alleged victor’s watch party was held in Naples.
Scott took the stage nearly five hours after polls closed to the applause of an enthusiastic and patient crowd of his supporters.
“If you just stop and think about, what we started to deliberate 8 years and 7 months ago, it’s just hard to believe we’re here tonight,” Scott said.
The term-limited governor anxiously awaited the results over the course of the night, until his campaign ruled Scott’s lead over Nelson large enough to call it.
“The campaigns I’ve been involved in are divisive, and they’re tough," Scott said. "And, they’re actually way too nasty. But, you know what? We’ve done this for over 200 years, and after these campaigns, we come together. And, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Now-Sen. Scott spoke about his next steps heading into the majority-Republican Senate, now facing a Democratic-led House.
“Together, we reinvented state government in Florida, and we’re going to do the same thing in D.C.," Scott said. "The federal government is frustrating. It’s outdated. It’s wasteful, and it’s inefficient. All of us in state government have dealt with the federal government over the last eight years and we can tell you story after story after story.”
In his own sort of rags-to-riches story highlighted in past campaign ads, Scott rose from the economic hardships he faced as a child to put himself through law school and later apply his education in his role as the CEO of the largest for-profit hospital in the country, where he made the millions he’d one day invest in his bids for public office.
When he spoke about his upbringing, Scott choked up at the mention of his mother.
“She would never believe that I’d be a governor or a U.S. Senator," Scott said, holding back tears. "I had the most wonderful mom.”
For voters, the most important thing leading up to Election Day seemed to be the two senatorial candidates’ responses to crises such as the algal blooms plaguing the southern half of the state. The topic was front and center on protest signs in the months leading up to the midterm election.
Another hot topic was the response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico. Scott visited the so-called Isla del Encanto eight times after Maria, though Nelson also visited the island several times.
With all of the causes that are near and dear to the hearts of Florida voters, in the end, they declared they want a new — though familiar — face to take a crack at solving the state’s biggest issues on the Senate floor.
“And, I will never give up," Scott said. "God bless every one of you. God bless our great country. Let’s get to work!”