Florida voters re-elected Republican Rick Scott as governor and delivered another big political defeat to the once rising career of Democrat Charlie Crist.
The Associated Press declared Scott the winner Tuesday night with nearly all precincts reporting. He held nearly 49 percent of the vote to Crist's nearly 47 percent.
"It's time to put all the division behind us and come together," Scott told supporters after the win. "Forget about all the partisanship, Florida is on a mission. That mission is to keep growing and become the very best place in the world to get a job, raise a family and live the American dream."
Scott said he received a phone call from Crist, who conceded late Tuesday.
"It's never really been about right vs. left, it's really been about right vs. wrong, and I hope as Floridians as we go forward we can focus on that and work together," Crist said after the loss. "Florida needs all of us, she needs all of us to work together."
According to the Florida Department of State, Scott won by a slim margin of less than 100,000 votes. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Scott had 2,858,119 votes to Crist's 2,786,643.
The 61-year-old Scott overcame a late deficit in some polls to post the win. His campaign emphasized the drop in the state's unemployment rate and criticized Crist as a political opportunist and supporter of President Barack Obama. In the final days, Scott and his wife put almost $13 million of their own money into the campaign. Scott is a multimillionaire who made his fortune as the founder and one-time CEO of a hospital chain.
The gubernatorial election was not without a little last minute drama Tuesday evening. The polls closed at 7 p.m., but the Crist campaign sought to keep the polls open in Broward County until 9 p.m. due to what it called “several individual and systemic breakdowns that made it difficult for voters to cast regular ballots."
The motion was denied by a Broward County judge shortly before 8 p.m., when the polls closed across the entire state.
Scott’s victory made him just the second GOP governor in state history to win re-election. He also won re-election with approval ratings consistently under 50 percent for almost his entire first four years in office.
Crist’s political career may be over after losing another statewide election. Crist, a one-time Republican, lost a Senate election as an independent and has now lost a gubernatorial election as a Democrat.