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1 point ahead, Rick Scott appears on way to winning second term

@MarcACaputo @stevebousquet

BONITA SPRINGS ---Bolstered by a $100 million campaign and a stronger economy, Gov. Rick Scott overcame his own political liabilities and a fierce challenge from Democrat Charlie Crist on Tuesday as he won a second term that solidified Republican control of the state.

Polls showed the race would be tight, and it was.

As Scott clung to a 1.4 percentage point lead, Crist conceded before 11:30 p.m.

“It’s time to put all the division behind us and come together. Forget the partisanship,” Scott said in his victory speech.

“Florida is on a mission – and that is to keep growing.”

Scott, who turns 62 next month, becomes only the second Republican governor in state history, along with Jeb Bush, to win back-to-back terms. In one respect, he’ll be even more powerful than Bush because Republicans on Tuesday won super-majority control of the Florida House. The GOP also controls the state Senate.

In his speech, Crist said he congratulated Scott and talked about finding common ground and asked the governor to expand Medicaid.

“As you know for me, it’s never really been right vs. left,” Crist said. “It’s really been about right vs. wrong.”

The win by Scott was no small feat. Not only were his poll numbers poor, but his awkward, camera-shy performance often made him the butt of jokes by late-night TV comics.

But Scott had the last laugh on Tuesday. On Monday, he predicted a victory but only got the hour of his win wrong.

“We’re going to announce at 8 o’clock that we kicked Charlie’s rear,” Scott told retirees at The Villages. “And he deserves it.”

The comment underscored the antipathy between the two candidates.