WASHINGTON -- It took 12 extra days, but the 2018 Florida midterm elections are finally over and Florida has a new senator-elect, marking the end of a long and messy vote recount that drew national attention.
- 1st time since Reconstruction Florida had 2 GOP senators
- Scott poured more than $50 million into campaign
- Florida results seen as bellweather for bitter 2020 campaigns
- DECISION 2018: Latest News | Election Results
Gov. Rick Scott will join fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Capitol Hill when he’s sworn in as Florida’s junior senator in early January. The senator-elect is already being assigned a temporary office space. His victory now boosts the Republican Senate majority to 52.
"This is really historic," said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida.
After two weeks of several recounts and a few battles in court, Scott is now three for three in consecutive statewide contests, a record no politician in recent Florida history has accomplished.
“To have two Republican Senators representing Florida in Washington, D.C. It’s the first time that Florida has done that since the aftermath of the Civil War during the Reconstruction period. That’s a long time to not have two Republican senators," Jewett said.
Behind Scott’s victories, his vast personal wealth. During this race, he spent more than $50 million of his own money. The strategy appears to have paid off. Of the five senators who lost their re-election bids, Scott took down the one with perhaps the longest resume in public life, a major blow for the state and national Democratic party.
“Unfortunately for them, it means the same thing that it’s meant after many elections statewide here in the last 20 years and it’s back to the drawing board," Jewett explained.
President Trump narrowly carried Florida in 2016 and Senator-elect Scott was one of the president’s earliest and most vocal supporters. While both candidates in this race campaigned primarily on local issues, Jewett believes the results are still a referendum on President Trump.
“The candidates in our Senate race perhaps didn’t highlight Trump quite as much as some other races. In terms of the mass majority of millions of votes, it really was about Donald Trump, even though the name on the ballot was Rick Scott or Bill Nelson," he said.
Many experts believe Florida is a bellwether for the rest of the country — the results of these highly contested senate and gubernatorial races now sets the stage for what is likely to be a bitter 2020 campaign ahead.