Palm Beach Again Holds Up An Election, Scott Confident
By John Kennedy, Keith Laing and David Royse
The News Service Of Florida
The closest governor’s race in Florida history lurched into Wednesday with Republican Rick Scott holding what appears to be a 72,000-vote lead, but Democrat Alex Sink continued to cling to prospects of a comeback fueled by results still outstanding in a county flush with Democrats.
As Floridians went to bed Tuesday not knowing who won, attention turned to Palm Beach County, once again ground zero for an election snafu.
Scott, appeared briefly before a crowd of a few hundred at a Fort Lauderdale waterfront hotel shortly before 2:30 a.m.
“I am absolutely confident I will be the next great governor of the state of Florida,” Scott told the crowd, which had been feasting on a free buffet and open bar through the night in anticipation of hailing their next governor.
But as the night wore on — and what had been a solid, 4 percent Scott lead eroded to a 1.4 percent edge — it was evident that celebration would have to wait. Scott’s 1.4 percent margin was less than the 1.6 percentage point victory that propelled Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles over first-time Republican candidate Jeb Bush in 1994.
And Sink’s hopes were bolstered by the fact that Palm Beach leans decidedly toward Democrats.
The governor’s race was the only thing holding up a Republican celebration of the party’s best days in the state in years. The pendulum that swung left in 2008 when Florida voters helped put Barack Obama in the White House and turned out some Republicans in Congress, swung back to the right hard on Tuesday. Republicans picked up seats in the congressional delegation and the Legislature, held the U.S. Senate seat and swept the Cabinet races.
Scott campaign officials went to the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections to monitor counting, but didn’t comment on what was going on. The supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County is former Democratic state lawmaker Susan Bucher.
In Tampa, Sink said the outcome would have to wait.
“We’re Floridians so we know what it means to count every single vote,” she said before calling it a night. “We will wait to have all the voices heard.”
What, exactly, was the hold up wasn’t clear. The Palm Beach Post quoted Bucher as saying that the county doesn’t send the results from precincts to the main elections office “by modem,” leaving unclear how the county moves information about the results.
“It just takes this long to do it here,” the Post quoted Bucher as saying.
Officials in both the Scott and Sink camps said they’d speak publicly later Wednesday morning.
Sink said there also remained late Tuesday votes yet to be counted in her home county of Hillsborough, though officials there didn’t say what was holding up results in that county either.
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