Rick Scott and Bill Nelson both show up on Capitol Hill, even as Florida contest remains undecided

As the deadline for the Florida recount nears, Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott both are on Capitol Hill looking to present themselves as the Sunshine State’s senator -- even though the results back home were far from certain.

Scott appeared alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republican senators-elect on Wednesday for photographs and to vote in Senate Republican leadership elections -- even though the race for Nelson’s seat has not yet been called.

Nelson, meanwhile, appeared at a press conference alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, on Tuesday, calling for Scott to recuse himself from the recount and insisting that he had a good chance of being re-elected.

“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,” Nelson said. Scott's office announced Wednesday that he will recuse himself from the certification of the final election results.

"Republicans know that if this recount is conducted fairly and thoroughly that Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance of being reelected,” Schumer told reporters.


On Saturday, Florida’s secretary of state announced there would be recounts in both the Senate race and the governor’s race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, as both races fell within the margin that by law triggers a recount. Scott was projected the winner of the Senate race on Election Night, but Scott’s lead shrank in the days after the vote.

According to the Florida Division of Elections’ website, total votes as of Tuesday night show Scott with 50.07 percent of the ballots counted to Nelson’s 49.92 percent.

The press conference was the latest example of the contentious back-and-forth between the two since Election Day. On Wednesday, Scott adviser Gail Gitcho said that Scott had a lead that Nelson would not be able to overcome and said it made sense for Scott to be on the Hill as a result.

"He is the next senator from Florida, he's ahead by an insurmountable number of votes," Gitcho said on "America's Newsroom" Wednesday. She also dismissed Nelson's press conference with Schumer as "bizarre."

"I wouldn't even call that a press conference, it was more like a hostage situation with Bill Nelson making a weird statement and then Chuck Schumer shufffling him off the stage," she said.

President Trump has repeatedly weighed in on the controversy, asking Tuesday: “When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida?”

"The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to 'find' enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!" he tweeted, a reference to long-standing Republican concerns that there has been voter fraud in Democratic strongholds -- particularly Broward County, which has a history of electoral controversies. The state elections department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have both said they have not seen any evidence of voter fraud.

Scott has filed two lawsuits against election officials in two Democratic strongholds in Florida—Broward County and Palm Beach County—accusing them of engaging in potentially “rampant fraud.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for Nelson 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.


The deadline for all votes to be counted in Florida's hotly-contested Senate and gubernatorial races is Thursday. But lawyers returned to court Wednesday after machines in Palm Beach County overheated, causing mismatched results with the recount of 174,000 early voting ballots. Officials are seeking a five-day extension to November 20.

Once the machine recount is complete, a hand recount will be ordered in any race where the difference is 0.25 percentage points or less, meaning it could take even longer to complete the review of the Senate race if the difference remains tight. If the Senate race does go to a hand recount, the deadline for counties to finish is Sunday.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Barnini Chakraborty, Chad Pergram, Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.