By Aaron Deslatte
The Orlando Sentinel
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. _ Democrat Alex Sink succumbed to the math Wednesday morning, conceding Florida's razor-thin gubernatorial contest to
Republican Rick Scott after a nail-biting overnight drama that saw both candidates waiting for results to trickle in from South Florida.
"There is no path to victory for us," Sink told a few dozen reporters gathered in a ballroom at the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel.
"Rick Scott will be the next governor of Florida."
Sink said she called Scott Wednesday morning and urged him to focus on uniting a narrowly divided electorate.
"I hope Rick Scott remembers there are 2.5 million Floridians who did not vote for him and that his highest priority has to
be to bring our state together."
Sink refused to concede Tuesday night, pinning her hopes on some Democratic-friendly precincts in South Florida and Tampa
that had yet to be counted. But they weren't enough; with all but a single precinct in Broward County and some absentee ballots outstanding, Scott
leads by an extraordinarily slim but still insurmountable 68,277 votes _ a margin of just 1 percent.
Sink attributed the defeat to two factors: A national wave of support for Republican candidates _ the GOP claimed everything from
the U.S. House of Representatives to all three statewide Cabinet seats in Florida _ and the record $73 million of personal
wealth that Scott, a controversial healthcare executive, poured into his race.
"We lost because of forces beyond our control, because of the money and the mood of the country," Sink said. Asked if she
would have done anything differently with her own campaign, she replied, "Absolutely not."
Tuesday night, Sink had declined to concede the election, saying "hundreds of thousands" of votes in Democrat-rich South
Florida and Hillsborough County had yet to be counted.
But with virtually all the precincts in Democrat-rich South Florida were counted she had little choice but to concede.
Scott had emerged from his Fort Lauderdale hotel room shortly after 2 a.m., to pitch good news to about 150 cheering
"I apologize this has taken so long," he said. "Let me tell you some good news: Based on the numbers we're seeing now ... I
am absolutely confident I will be the next great governor of the state of Florida."
Many of the uncounted votes in the governor's race had been in Palm Beach County, the same county that drew national
attention for its controversial Butterfly Ballot during the legally contested 2000 presidential election.
In the moments before all ballots were counted, election officials still were conducting the tallying and
troubleshooting issues. Ten cartridges had not been reading properly, and ballots instead had to be pulled and
counted using a high-speed reader, said Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.
Scott, 57, becomes the state's 45th governor and its first self-financed one. He poured a total of $73 million
of his personal wealth into his out-of-nowhere candidacy launched in April, including $53.3 million to win a
bitter primary against Attorney General Bill McCollum.
"We know we're going to win. We have won. We look forward to getting the state back to work," Scott said.
Scott's win gives the GOP unprecedented control in Tallahassee, thanks to big wins Tuesday. In the Legislature,
Republicans were poised to grow their majorities from 26 seats to perhaps 28 in the 40-member Senate and 81 seats
in the 120-member House.