Republican Rick Scott spent more of his own money than any politician in Florida history, but needed a wave of conservative activism to push him across the finish line early Wednesday morning in the closest governor's race in 16 years.
Democrat Alex Sink conceded defeat about 10:30 Wednesday in a surprise announcement in Tampa. She had said she would wait until all votes were counted.
Scott, spending $73 million on his campaign and promising to bring new jobs to the state, capitalized on the economic anxiety and anti-incumbent sentiment embodied by the tea party, a movement he once helped finance with a campaign-style group that fought President Barack Obama's health care changes.
The outcome was delayed overnight because some of the state's largest counties were unable to complete their vote counts. In Sink's home county of Hillsborough, over 30,000 incorrectly uploaded early voting ballots were recounted.
The biggest delay Tuesday came in Palm Beach County, ground zero of the 2000 presidential election meltdown. County officials did not finish counting ballots until after 4 a.m.
A late turnout also created more than two-hour lines, WPBF-TV reported. Everyone who got in line before 7 p.m. was allowed to vote. The last ballot was cast after 9 p.m. and it was after midnight before all the ballots arrived at the tabulation center in Riviera Beach.
In Hillsborough, about 38,000 ballots from the final days of early voting failed to upload properly and had to be rescanned by hand, election officials said.
That process was done by 1 a.m. on Wednesday, but provisional ballots and about 6,000 absentee ballots still hadn't been counted by 9 a.m., said Travis Abercrombie, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. He said it's not clear when those counts will start or what time the Hillsborough County canvassing board will meet after postponing its 11 a.m. meeting
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