In race for Florida governor, Democrat Alex Sink concedes defeat

Democrat Alex Sink has conceded defeat in the race for governor in Florida, keeping the seat in Republican hands.

Democrat Alex Sink has conceded defeat in the race for governor in Florida, keeping the seat in Republican hands.

Rick Scott, a former healthcare executive who spent millions on his campaign, held a lead of about 1%, with all but 40 of the state's precincts reporting.

Expecting losses in state races elsewhere, Democrats prized what they saw as a major pickup opportunity in the state. The Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governors Assn. each steered millions to the state Democratic Party and to the campaign of Sink, the state's chief financial officer.

Scott, who founded the group Conservative for Patients' Rights that vigorously challenged the proposed federal health reform plan, was not his party's preferred candidate. He defeated state Atty. Gen. Bill McCollum in the August primary.

In the campaign that followed, Scott and national Republican allies tagged Sink as an "Obama liberal," hoping to capitalize on a growing Republican tidal wave. Sink and Democrats countered that Scott was unfit for office, having been forced to resign as head of Columbia/HCA after the company admitted to the largest Medicare fraud in history.

Scott spent more than $70 million en route to victory, a hurdle Democrats ultimately say was too high.

"In one of the toughest landscapes in decades, running against someone who spent more than $70 million of his own money, Alex Sink fell short of victory tonight. We commend her for running a strong campaign that reflected the honesty and integrity that have marked her career," said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, chair of the Democratic governors' group.

Democrats took some consolation in the fact that Florida voters, while electing Republicans to each of the state's constitutional offices and knocking off several Democratic incumbents in the House, also approved a ballot measure to take redistricting powers away from the state Legislature.

Nonetheless, the loss in the governor's race here, as well as in Ohio, is a blow to the party's hopes of controlling governorships in key presidential battlegrounds.

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