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GOP's Scott: 'Starting today, I work for every Floridian'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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FL Gov.-elect Rick Scott revels in victory
  • NEW: Scott says he is "honored" by election
  • NEW: "Today is the end of politics as usual in Tallahassee"
  • Democratic candidate Alex Sink earlier conceded the tight race

(CNN) -- Republican Rick Scott has won Florida's governorship after Democratic rival Alex Sink conceded the tight race Wednesday morning.

"Nothing in my life has honored me as much as your willingness, and the willingness of everyone in Florida, the Florida voters, to put their faith in my plan for turning around the great state of Florida," Scott told supporters in his victory speech Wednesday.

With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Scott led by more than 53,000 votes out of more than 5 million cast, a 49-48 percent margin. Sink, the state's chief financial officer, said she and her advisers saw "no path to victory" in the outstanding count.

"I have just called Rick Scott to congratulate him," Sink told supporters in Tampa. "And I told him that especially with a very close election, he will have to work very hard to bring our state together. Because for the future of our state, I hope Rick Scott remembers that there are two and half million Floridians who do not vote for him, and that his highest priority has to be to bring our state together."

"There were plenty of pundits, politicians and insiders who said this victory was impossible," Scott said. But, he said, voters "sent a message loud and clear. They said, 'Let's get to work.'"

Sink concedes Florida governor's race

He described his call from Sink as "gracious" and said, "She ran quite a race."

"Today, the campaign is over," he said, "and Jennifer [Carroll, lieutenant-governor elect] and I are eager to start bringing people together to solve our state's problems."

He addressed Sink's supporters, saying, "I know I have some work to do to earn your support ... starting today, I work for every Floridian."

Scott came to national prominence by attacking the Obama administration's health-care overhaul in a series of nationally televised ads. The 57-year-old former health-care executive won the GOP nomination by beating state Attorney General Bill McCollum, who was backed by Florida and national establishment Republicans, in a bitter primary that saw Scott spending nearly $50 million of his own money.

During the campaign, Sink hit hard at Scott's tenure as head of the hospital corporation Columbia/HCA, which paid $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud under his stewardship. In their final debate, he deflected questions about his leadership of the company and accused Sink, the former president of NationsBank, of supervising employees who used deceptive sales practices to direct senior citizens into high-risk investments in exchange for kickbacks. The institution, which has since merged with Bank of America, was fined $6.7 million for its deceptive practices.

"Today is the end of politics as usual in Tallahassee," Scott said Wednesday. He said during his campaign, he's met Floridians who have lost their jobs and their homes, and some who are losing hope. His message to them: "Don't give up. I'm giving you my word -- better days are coming."

He pledged to put together a team of people who share his vision of shrinking government and building private-sector jobs.

"I believe in accountability, and I know I have promises to keep to the people of Florida," he said. "And I won't rest until we are a model for the country in job creation and education."