Democrats on Tuesday doubled downed on calls for Florida’s outgoing Republican governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott to recuse himself from the recount of last week’s election against Sen. Bill Nelson -- while insisting the incumbent Democratic senator still has an "excellent" chance at being re-elected.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined by Nelson, on Tuesday told reporters on Capitol Hill that Scott “needs to recuse himself from any involvement in the recount and do it now.”
“He’s a contestant in the election and can’t possibly be trusted as a neutral and fair arbiter as the votes are counted,” Schumer said.
Nelson added: “It’s become obvious that Mr. Scott cannot oversee the process in a fair and impartial way and he should remove himself from the recount process.”
Over the weekend, Florida’s secretary of state Ken Detzner announced there would be recounts in both the Senate race and the governor’s race, noting that unofficial results in both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. Last Tuesday, Scott was projected the winner of the Senate race, but Nelson has refused to concede amid the recounts.
The unofficial vote count shows Scott leading Nelson by 12,562 votes.
“Every vote must count. That’s what Democrats believe, that’s what we’re trying to get done,” Schumer said Tuesday. “President Trump and Gov. Scott seem dead-set against counting every vote.”
“Why?” Schumer continued. “Because they’re worried if every vote is counted, Bill Nelson will be re-elected as senator in the great state of Florida.”
Scott, though, has expressed confidence the recount will ultimately reflect his victory, just like on Election Day.
“I won the election,” Scott told “Fox & Friends” Monday. “I’m going to focus on getting to Washington and getting my agenda implemented.”
Scott has filed two lawsuits against election officials in two Democratic strongholds in Florida—Broward County and Palm Beach County—flagging them for engaging in potentially “rampant fraud.”
“We won. We’re going to win the recount because it’s never been overturned before,” Scott said Monday. “I’m going to Washington as the next Florida senator.”
Scott added: “Bill Nelson is clearly a sore loser. He can’t stand the fact that he’s not going to be elected for, what, the first time in decades. He’s just here to steal the election.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for Nelson, D-Fla., filed a federal lawsuit claiming Florida is disenfranchising voters by not counting mail-in ballots it received after Election Day. State law requires all mail ballots to be received when the polls close—which was 7 p.m. on Nov. 6.
“Republicans know that if this recount is conducted fairly and thoroughly, Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance of being re-elected,” Schumer said.
The deadline for all votes to be counted in Florida's hotly-contested Senate and gubernatorial races is Thursday. But the supervisor of elections in Florida's heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, Susan Bucher, said over the weekend that she did not believe her department would meet the deadline to complete recounts due to aging equipment.
Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell told Fox News that under state law, if a county does not submit their results by the deadline, then the results on file at the time take their place. Revell added that Florida's secretary of state has no authority to grant extensions.
"Supervisors of Elections are independent officials and they are responsible for deciding when to upgrade or modernize their equipment," Revell said.
But Schumer blasted that response, saying supervisors "should have all the time they need" to make sure they "count ever Floridians ballot to make sure the candidate with the most votes is actually seated in January, even if the vote count has to go beyond" the deadline.
Meanwhile, in the Florida governor’s race, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis was announced the winner by the end of Election Day, with his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum conceding on the night of the election. But by the end of last week, Gillum took back his concession and embraced a recount.
“I am replacing my words of concessions with an uncompromising and unapologetic call that we count every single vote,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, told reporters Saturday, though saying he is prepared to accept “whatever the outcome of this election so far as every single vote…is counted.”
Both Scott and DeSantis led their races after the midterms on Tuesday, but as the days went on, and more votes were counted, those leads had all but disappeared. Scott’s lead by Saturday afternoon was reduced to 0.15 percent and DeSantis’ was 0.41 percent.
Fox News' Gregg Re and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.