- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sen. Bill Nelson and a team of lawyers scoured Florida looking for uncounted votes over the last two weeks. On Sunday it became clear there just weren’t enough of them for the three-term Democratic senator to prevail.

Mr. Nelson conceded Sunday evening after two separate recounts, with the state likely to certify the results Tuesday, officially delivering victory to Gov. Rick Scott, and marking another GOP Senate pickup.

The recount also failed to find enough votes to rescue Democrat Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial bid, and he did concede that race Saturday to Republican Ron DeSantis.

Next door in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who would have become the first black woman to be elected governor in U.S. history, refused to concede — but acknowledged she, too, was unable to find enough votes to force her race into a runoff. But she did not go quietly, delivering vicious jabs at Brian Kemp, the Republican who bested her.

Nearly two weeks after voters had their say, the final pieces of the election map are falling into place and the GOP is getting some desperately needed good news, after a spate of other races didn’t go their way.

Some House races are still being tallied, including in Utah, where Republican Rep. Mia Love has now taken the lead in her re-election bid, after trailing in the count since election night.

President Trump had infamously mocked Ms. Love for losing in his post-election press conference, saying she bungled her race by distancing herself from him. But as of Sunday she led 129,006 to 128,587 over Democrat Ben McAdams.

Republicans also hold leads in House races in Texas, Georgia and New York, though The Associated Press had yet to project winners in those races.

If those results stand, it would leave Democrats with 233 seats, which gives them a decent cushion over the 218 needed for a majority. Republicans would hold 202.

The results aren’t as good as the GOP had hoped for as late as election night, when they appeared to have netted three Senate seats and, while losing the House, seemed to have held Democrats beneath 230 seats.

Late counts sent Democrats over the top in a number races, including the Arizona Senate seat and several House battles.

Yet this weekend the GOP finally enjoyed good news.

Mr. Nelson, after vigorously battling for his seat, gave it up.

“Well, things worked out a little differently than Grace and I had hoped,” the senator said, delivering a concession to Mr. Scott. “But let me say, I by no measure feel defeated. And that’s because I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life.”

In Georgia, Ms. Abrams acknowledged her loss — but refused to call it a concession.

“The law, as it stands, says that he received an adequate number of votes to become the governor of Georgia. And I acknowledge the law as it stands,” she told CNN on Sunday.

Under questioning by host Jake Tapper she refused to call Mr. Kemp “legitimate,” instead saying he would only be the “legal” governor. And she didn’t dispute claims by other Democrats that the election was “stolen.”

“We know, sometimes, the law does not do what it should and that something being legal does not make it right,” she said. “This is someone who has compromised our systems. He’s compromised our democratic systems. And that is not appropriate.”

Mr. Kemp had a lead of about 60,000 votes, which was some 17,000 votes above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Ms. Abrams had been hoping to uncover enough votes to narrow that gap.

Likewise in Florida, Mr. Nelson trailed by 60,000 votes on election night, but as counties continued to count that gap slimmed to just over 12,500. That was enough to trigger a mandatory machine recount and then a hand recount.

But he lost legal battles to try to get other disqualified votes counted, and never gained the lead.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump claimed credit for keeping the race static, saying his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud stopped the race from being stolen. “In my opinion, he would have lost. They would have taken that election away from him,” the president told “Fox News Sunday.”

The Florida governor’s race was nearly as dramatic.

Mr. Gillum, another black Democrat seeking to be a governor, conceded his race to Mr. DeSantis in the hours after the vote, then recanted, they over the weekend conceded again.

In deciding not to fight any more, Mr. Gillum and Ms. Abrams both move from candidates to Democratic martyrs — joining Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke as election losers who still emerged with a massive following and a major national profile.

Ms. Abrams said her next step will be to create an organization dedicated to overhauling Georgia’s elections system. She said the group’s first step will be a federal lawsuit challenging the way this election was run.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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