Gillum concedes Florida... at last

So the end of the Florida gubernatorial race came not with a bang, but more of a whimper. As NBC News reported yesterday, Democratic candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded what already looked to be inevitable. To his credit, his closing speech was gracious, including the usual congratulations to his opponent, Ron DeSantis.

Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded the Florida governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis Saturday, offering his congratulations in a message streamed on Facebook.

“We wanted to make sure that every single vote … as long as it was a legally cast vote, we wanted those votes to be counted,” Gillum said. Meanwhile, counties across the state worked toward a Sunday noon deadline to hand count certain ballots in other races. “And now that we are rounding that process out R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the governor of the great state of Florida.”

DeSantis’ victory isn’t a surprise, but it is very good news for President Donald Trump, whose party — and a close ally — will control the state government apparatus for the 2020 election.

So does that finally settle all the questions over Florida’s terrible reputation for handling elections? Not in the least. I wouldn’t expect things to become much calmer as long as we keep seeing headlines like this.

Gillum was far more civil in defeat than Stacey Abrams in Georgia, who made a point of not conceding during her concession speech and is now planning lawsuits to “fix” the electoral system. The implication is clear. Despite all the votes having been counted, Abrams still feels she should have won if more people had been “allowed” to vote.

The crazy part of all this is that Florida’s election woes are entirely fixable and everyone in the state knows it. They knew well in advance that they had a lot of problems with their antiquated machines and even put money in place to install new ones. Yet somehow, at least in a couple of key counties, it didn’t happen. Other states all across the nation manage to hold elections every year, tally the results and report them in a timely fashion. We’re not asking Florida to invent the perpetual motion machine here.

The other thing that Gillum’s supporters in Florida (and all of us, really) need to remember is that sometimes elections come down to a few votes. Sure, it would be nice if every race ended in a solid majority for one candidate or the other, demonstrating solid support from the voters. But it doesn’t always happen. Absent a miracle, we’re about to lose another GOP congressional seat in New York and it’s going to be by a margin of a couple thousand votes at most. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

But whether you win by a landslide or a single vote, the winner is the winner. The Republicans have plenty of losers of their own to mourn this year. That doesn’t mean we were cheated or that the system is broken. It just means everyone has to pick themselves up, dust off their boots and get to work trying to do better next time. Not everything has to be a conspiracy theory and Florida Democrats would do well to face up to that reality.

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