Alex Sink concedes the election to the governor's race while her running mate Rod Smith looks on.
TAMPA, Florida - After huddling with her staff, crunching numbers and realizing there was "no path to victory," Democratic candidate Alex Sink announced Wednesday morning she would give up her quest to become Florida's first female governor.
Standing before a throng of about 50 media members in a cramped hotel meeting room, Sink confirmed she had called Republican candidate Rick Scott and conceded the race.
"I told him that, especially after such a very close election, he will need to work very hard to bring our state together," Sink said in reference to a hostile election season and a bitter battle in the race for governor. "For the future of our state, I hope Rick Scott remembers that there are two-and-a-half million Floridians who did not vote for him. And that his highest priority has to be to bring our state together, and to meet our challenges."
Sink, a former banking executive who most recently served as Florida's chief financial officer, remained positive Tuesday night after early returns showed her trailing by significant margins around the state. When word came in just before midnight that potentially "hundreds of thousands" of votes hadn't been counted, her camp appeared to be emboldened.
The Florida Democratic Party even enlisted the help of a Washington, D.C., law firm in the event of a recount. That hope faded early Wednesday, however, as the final margin of victory settled in at just over one percent.
With running mate Rod Smith by her side, Sink showed up about 10 minutes early for a hastily called news conference and expressed gratitude to her supporters, family and even the media.
"So many people who love our state, and care deeply about our future, gave their time, their money, their toil, their sweat and yes - as of this morning - even their tears for a successful campaign," Sink said.
Sink's voice cracked at least twice during her concession speech, but she was upbeat afterward and then entertained a small gathering of supporters for more than an hour.
While staffers wiped away tears and exchanged embraces, Sink consoled them with words of encouragement. She also said she is hopeful that Scott will fulfill his campaign promise of helping stimulate job growth throughout the state.
"He must put people back to work," Sink said. "That was his commitment, that was his campaign promise, and that's what we here in Florida need so desperately - to put those million people who are out of work back to gainful employment."
Sink said she intended to go back to "private life" and insisted she had no regrets about her campaign. She attributed the defeat to "forces beyond their control" - namely the swell of support for Republicans and Scott's record-setting campaign-spending spree.
Ira Schoffel, Tallahassee Democrat