ORLANDO, Fla. -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was re-elected to a third term in the U.S. Senate tonight, remaining the Sunshine State's only statewide elected Democrat.
He defeated GOP challenger Congressman Connie Mack, according to nthe Associated Press which called the race shortly after 8 p.m.
Nelson's re-election to a third six-year term puts him in the ranks of former U.S. Sens. Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles in modern Florida political history.
After the vote, Nelson thanked the people of Florida before a packed crowd in the main ballroom of the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Orlando.
"I am thankful to the Lord, and, I am humbled by the support of the people of Florida," Nelson said. "Grace and I are grateful for this continued privilege of public service."
Nelson also sounded a clarion call for bipartisan cooperation to solve the pressing challenges facing the nation.
"I'd like to say that Connie Mack was my opponent - not my enemy." Nelson said. "You know, these days the extremists in our political system try to divide. We need to unify. So," Nelson continued, "I promise tonight to continue to try and break that partisan gridlock."