Andrew Gillum, whose bid to become the first black governor of Florida extended more than a week after Election Day, conceded the race Saturday, effectively making Republican Ron DeSantis the winner in the tight, hotly contested race.
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Gillum, a Democrat who is mayor of Tallahassee, announced live on Facebook shortly before 5 p.m. that he was formally ending his candidacy.
“I want to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum, who was accompanied by his wife, said.
“This has been the journey of our lives,” he said.
The deadline for a manual recount was set for noon on Sunday.
A few hours before Gillum conceded, President Trump congratulated Gillum for running a “really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida.”
Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
“He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!”
Gillum said he waited until the “last vote was counted.”
“We wanted to make sure every single vote … as long as it was a legally cast vote, we wanted it to be counted,” he said.
The concession for Gillum brought an end to a bitter and contentious battle with DeSantis.
The Trump-backed Republican said at a rally during the campaign that Gillum would appoint “Soros-backed activists” to the statehouse if he had won. And DeSantis was criticized after saying during an interview on FOX News that voters should not “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum — a remark believed by many to be racist.
Gillum was also the target of racist robocalls paid for by a white nationalist group from Idaho.
On Election Night, Gillum had conceded when DeSantis’ lead seemed insurmountable. He withdrew the concession a few day later.