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Florida governor election results: Republican Rick Scott prevails in tight race

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Wilfredo Lee/AP

(Read caption) Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott his wife Ann, wave to supporters before Scott's victory speech, on Nov. 3, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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The Florida gubernatorial election turned out to be every bit as close as the polling in recent weeks suggested.

But by mid-morning Wednesday, the result was finally official: Republican Rick Scott – who spent nearly $75 million of his own money on his campaign – is the winner. Democrat Alex Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, conceded defeat, opting not to wait until every ballot was counted.

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Mr. Scott is a first-time politician whose primary win over a more established candidate was a surprise.

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He’s a former health-care CEO who was forced to resign amid a scandal over Medicare billing practices in 1997, and he barely met the seven-year Florida residency requirement to run.

Despite being a political novice, Scott ran a relatively strong campaign and benefited from the Republican tide sweeping across the country, and particularly across Florida. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio – a young conservative tea party favorite who won the GOP primary – got nearly 50 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Ms. Sink made a few mistakes, notably the widely publicized “cheating” incident in which she accepted a cellphone and read a text message from a staffer during a debate in which phones were explicitly prohibited.

Governors’ races in a surprising number of other states, meanwhile, remain too close to be called. Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon have all remained incredibly tight, and the results may not be known in some states – particularly Oregon, where ballots are mailed in – for several days at least.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn seems likely to barely hang onto his seat, even as President Obama’s old Senate seat in the state went to a Republican.

But the others are still virtual tossups. By midmorning Wednesday in Connecticut, fewer than 1,000 votes separated Democrat Dan Malloy from his Republican opponent, Tom Foley.