Republican Matt Caldwell took Broward County elections officials to task as his lead over Democrat Nikki Fried disappeared in the statewide Agriculture Commissioner contest.
Caldwell spokesman Brian Swenson attacked Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes while promising the campaign will ensure every vote gets counted.
“We have watched Brenda Snipes and the Broward Supervisor of Elections demonstrate gross incompetence and potential corruption election cycle after election cycle,” Swenson said.
“Over the past two days, Snipes’ office has refused to give either an accurate count of outstanding ballots or where they come from, all while the Democratic candidates continue to pick up tens of thousands of new votes. Ms. Snipes’ office has a record of incompetence and illegal behavior.”
That came hours after Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio released a string of tweets saying the Broward and Palm Beach elections offices failed to follow the law by taking days to count all early and vote-by-mail ballots instead of counting them immediately after polls closed.
Caldwell claimed victory on Tuesday night when he led Fried by about 41,000 votes out of 8 million cast.
But as more votes came in from Broward and Palm Beach counties, the margin between candidates tightened. Today, Fried pulled ahead in the election and now sits on a 2,910-vote lead.
Fried from Election Day on declined to concede, noting Wednesday morning the election appeared closer than any statewide general election since the infamous 2000 presidential recount between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.
Thursday, Fried issued a statement supporting the counting of votes and predicting her lead will hold.
Caldwell promised to pursue legal options to ensure the integrity of the election.
“Our legal team is going to pursue every option to ensure election results are counted fairly, accurately, and legally,” Swenson said. “Matt Caldwell will be Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and the will of the voters will be upheld.”
Florida law calls for a recount of votes if the margin between candidates ends up within 0.5 percent of all votes cast. A manual recount will take place if that recount produces a margin below 0.25 percent.
The margin between Caldwell and Fried right now remains about 0.04 percent.