In Fla., Gov. Race A Nail-Biter; GOP Wins Sen. Seat

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Florida is looking closely at ballots today as it works out who won the gubernatorial race; it's the final race the Republicans need to win for a statewide sweep. The Senate race was clear: Republican Marco Rubio trounced both Democrat Kendrick Meek and independent Charlie Crist.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

On the morning after Election Day it's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

In Florida, the governor's race is a nail biter. Republican Rick Scott is barely ahead of his Democratic opponent. And as Greg Allen reports from Miami, it's the final race the Republicans need to win for a statewide sweep.

GREG ALLEN: Election night was almost anticlimactic for supporters of Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio. A former state House speaker, Rubio began running for the open Senate seat nearly two years ago, at a time when both President Obama and Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist enjoyed good approval ratings.

But as Florida's problems with foreclosures and joblessness worsened, the mood of the electorate soured. Rubio's message of less debt and less government spending resonated with voters.

Rubio's popularity forced moderate Republican Crist to drop out of the primary and run as an independent. In the end, Rubio ended up beating Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek by a wide margin.

At his victory party in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables, Rubio hit a Tea Party note with a word of caution for the Republican Party.

Senator-elect MARCO RUBIO (Republican, Florida): We make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight, these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance, a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.

ALLEN: It was the first major victory notched by Florida Republicans on election night, but many more followed. Four incumbent Democratic Congressmen fell to House challengers, including Allen Boyd, a seven-term Blue Dog Democrat from North Florida.

Republicans also swept the other statewide races, with the possible exception of governor. In that race, Republican Rick Scott is facing Democrat Alex Sink. Scott built an early lead. That lead melted away though, late in the evening as votes trickled in from Florida's populous - and more Democratic - southern counties.

With hundreds of thousands of votes still to be counted, Sink told her supporters there would be no announcements until later today.

Ms. ALEX SINK (Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Florida): Now, we're Floridians so we know what it means to count every single vote.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ALLEN: Adding to the uncertainty, were more than 35,000 votes that election workers said were processed incorrectly. Sink's staff is starting to use the word recount.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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