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Gillum Withdraws Concession After Florida Secretary of State Orders Recount for Governor Races

Democrat Andrew Gillum withdrew his concession to Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race on Saturday, hours after the secretary of state announced a recount of their race and two others.

“I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call we count every single vote,” he said with the recount now underway.

Gillum on election night had told tearful supporters in Tallahassee, “We recognize that we didn’t win this tonight.”

The Florida secretary of state ordered recounts in the U.S. Senate and governor races in an unprecedented review of two major races in the state that took five weeks to decide the 2000 presidential election.

Secretary Ken Detzner issued the order after the unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. His office was unaware of any other time either a governor race or U.S. Senate race required a recount, let alone both in the same election.

Protesters confront each other outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office on Nov. 9, 2018, in Lauderhill, Florida. Both the gubernatorial and Senate races are now heading to a recount. (Credit: Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

Protesters confront each other outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office on Nov. 9, 2018, in Lauderhill, Florida. Both the gubernatorial and Senate races are now heading to a recount. (Credit: Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

The unofficial results show that Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis led Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by less than 0.5 percentage points, which will require a machine recount of ballots.

In the Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is less than 0.25 percentage points, which will require a hand recount of ballots from tabulation machines that couldn’t determine which candidate got the vote.

Saturday’s development’s return Florida to the center of a major political drama 18 years after an infamous presidential recount left control of the White House undecided for more than a month.

Republican Ron DeSantis (left) and Democrat Andrew Gillum (right) debate at Broward College on Oct. 24, 2018, in Davie, Florida. (Credit: Wilfredo Lee-Pool/Getty Images)

Republican Ron DeSantis (left) and Democrat Andrew Gillum (right) debate at Broward College on Oct. 24, 2018, in Davie, Florida. (Credit: Wilfredo Lee-Pool/Getty Images)

The latest recount underscores the deep divides plaguing one of the most critical states in American politics. Beyond determining the governorship, it will decide whether Nelson returns to Washington for a fourth term or whether Republicans will pad their majority in the Senate.

Florida’s 67 counties will decide when to begin the recounts. They could start the moment Detzner issued his order, or elections officials can wait until Sunday or Monday. But they must finish the machine recounts by 3 p.m. Thursday. Hand recounts will be reflected in official election results due Nov. 18.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) attends an election sign waving event on Nov. 5, 2018, in Melbourne, Florida. (Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) attends an election sign waving event on Nov. 5, 2018, in Melbourne, Florida. (Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Gillum conceded to DeSantis on Tuesday night, but when the results began to narrow, he said that every vote should count and he’s not expected to block a recount. DeSantis has said little about the recount and is instead proceeding as if he won the election, appointing a transition team and preparing to take office in January.

The battle for Nelson’s Senate seat has been much more heated, with both sides filing lawsuits. Scott has said Nelson is trying to steal the election, while Nelson is accusing Scott of trying to stop elections officials from counting every ballot.

President Donald Trump has also weighed in on Florida’s close elections.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks as he stands with his wife, Ann Scott (left), and daughter Alison Guimard (right) during his election night party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Naples, Florida. (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks as he stands with his wife, Ann Scott (left), and daughter Alison Guimard (right) during his election night party on Nov. 6, 2018, in Naples, Florida. (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump took Scott’s side on Friday, telling reporters that the federal government could get involved and adding: “all of the sudden they are finding votes out of nowhere.”

“What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” he said.

The scene was reminiscent of the 2000 presidential recount, when it took more than five weeks for Florida to declare George W. Bush the victor over Vice President Al Gore by 537 votes, and thus giving Bush the presidency.

Florida was mocked for the way it handled the infamous 2000 recount, especially since there was no uniform process then on how to proceed. That has changed, with the Legislature passing a clear procedure on how a recount should be conducted.

Florida is also conducting a hand recount in a third statewide race. Democrat Nikki Fried had a razor-thin lead over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner, one of Florida’s three Cabinet seats.