With more than 8 million votes counted, the state Division of Elections showed DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by a margin of 49.88 percent to 48.9 percent, or about 79,000 votes. More than 550,000 people voted early in Miami-Dade, either by mail or in person, far more than the previous midterm election in 2014.
DeSantis used Trump's backing to make the case that if he is elected, the state will be in a better position to receive support from Washington, D.C., in contrast to Gillum who has called for the impeachment of the president. He says DeSantis is "picking up where Rick Scott left off". Gillum and DeSantis are statistically tied in the tight race, according to the latest polling.
Accusations of race-baiting dogged Kemp, 55, and DeSantis, 40, who denied the allegations.More news: Chris Watts: Dad admits to killing family to avoid death penalty
Gillum conceded to DeSantis at about 11 p.m. on Tuesday and delivered an emotional speech to his supporters vowing to continue to fight for his beliefs. He had a race of his own for one of Florida's two seats in the U.S. Senate, challenging sitting Sen.
"I would like to thank the president for standing by me when it wasn't necessarily the smart thing to do", he said. That changed in the final week, when Trump helped drive out Republican supporters. For the son of a construction worker and a school bus driver, it's a classic tale of the American dream, and a new chapter in Gillum's ambitious political career (he became the youngest person elected to Tallahassee's City Commission when he was just 23-years-old).
Under Georgia law, if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election.More news: Dead brothel owner Hof wins race for Nevada State Assembly
Fox News projected DeSantis, a former congressman, would win with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., state Rep. Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner, and Ashley Moody, a former judge who is the GOP nominee for attorney general.
While it's no surprise that in MSNBC's hypothetical world the Democrat wins every time, polls for Florida's gubernatorial race have been trending in Gillum's direction.
Republicans said they cared most about immigration, then health care, then foreign policy.More news: Meghan Markle wore a see-through skirt: see photos
"I believe you have to turn a page on a campaign", DeSantis said, shortly before red and white confetti exploded at his election party.
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