Democrats Gillum, Abrams concede governorship races in Florida, Georgia

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chris O'Meara/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9968540e) Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum gives his concession speech, in Tallahassee, Fla. Gillum lost to Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis Election 2018 Governor Gillum Florida, Tallahassee, USA - 06 Nov 2018

Democrat Andrew Gillum, who had sought to become Florida’s first black governor, conceded on Saturday as a recount of ballots neared its end.

He congratulated rival Republican Ron DeSantis, an ally of President Donald Trump.

Gillum, the liberal mayor of Tallahassee, had initially conceded the race to DeSantis, a conservative former congressman.

He later withdrew that concession when the results were close enough for an automatic recount. On Saturday, he said that process was drawing to a close.

“This has been the journey of our lives. We’ve been so honored by the support that we’ve received,” Gillum said in a video statement. “Stay tuned, there will be more to come. This fight for Florida continues.”

DeSantis said on Twitter, “This was a hard-fought campaign. Now it’s time to bring Florida together.”

After Gillum initially conceded the contest on election night, his subsequent calls for every vote to be counted echoed similar appeals from fellow Democrat U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

A recount is continuing in the race between Nelson and his challenger for the Senate seat, outgoing Republican Governor Rick Scott.

That recount has become the subject of an intense political battle with Republicans including Trump claiming without evidence that the process was marred by fraud.

Both parties and their supporters filed multiple lawsuits challenging the process, with Republicans urging a strict standard on which votes were counted while Democrats contested rules that they saw as disenfranchising voters.

In Georgia, Stacey Abrams admitted defeat in her effort to become the first black female U.S. governor on Friday, but said she planned to sue the state over voting problems and “gross mismanagement” of the election.

Abrams’ announcement effectively hands victory to Republican Brian Kemp in a bitter race that has drawn national attention both for her historic campaign and for Kemp’s role as the state’s top election administrator.

Abrams accused Kemp of using his position as Georgia Secretary of State to interfere with the vote – an allegation he has strongly denied.

“To watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling,” Abrams told supporters in Atlanta.

“So let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession, because concession means to acknowledge an action as right, true or proper,” she said.

Abrams, 44, had considered a court challenge to force a runoff, which is allowed by state law if neither candidate gets a majority of the vote. Initial results showed Kemp just over that threshold.

Instead, she said she would sue the state for what she called “gross mismanagement of this election” and to protect future elections. She said she would start a new organisation, Fair Fight Georgia, to advocate for voting rights.

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