Republican Ron DeSantis is the apparent winner of the Florida governor race, beating Andrew Gillum: NBC News

  • Outspoken pro-Trump Republican Ron DeSantis is the apparent victor in the race for Florida's governor, triumphing over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in one of the mostly closely watched state elections in the country, NBC News projects.
  • The former congressman came from behind to defeat his Democratic challenger in a race that drew frequent commentary from PresidentTrump. Trump endorsed DeSantis and rallied for him in the state, while disparaging Gillum as a "thief."
  • Gillum, a liberal Democrat bolstered by endorsements from former President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders, was narrowly favored by virtually all public polling ahead of Election Day.

Outspoken pro-Trump Republican Ron DeSantis is the apparent victor in the race for Florida's governor, triumphing over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in one of the mostly closely watched state elections in the country, NBC News projects.

Gillum conceded the race.

DeSantis, a former congressman, came from behind to defeat his Democratic challenger in a race that drew frequent commentary from President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed DeSantis and rallied for him in the state, while disparaging Gillum as a "thief."

Gillum, a liberal Democrat bolstered by endorsements from former President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders, was narrowly favored by virtually all public polling ahead of Election Day.

But that proved not to be enough, as a number of controversies that DeSantis amplified in the race's final weeks apparently closed the gap.

An ongoing FBI probe into potential public corruption in Tallahassee ensnared Gillum in controversy despite his repeated claims that law enforcement told him he was not under investigation.

The matter escalated last month after the release of text messages that raised questions about some of Gillum's previous explanations related to the investigation.

At the forefront of the contest was race. Throughout the campaign, Gillum, who is black, accused DeSantis of making remarks designed to curry favor with white supremacists.

The day after Gillum won the Democratic primary, DeSantis said in a television interview that voters should not elect Gillum and "monkey this up." In the following months, racist robocalls funded by a white supremacist group circulated calling Gillum a "negro" and a "monkey."

DeSantis has said that his remarks were innocuous, and he denied responsibility for incendiary statements made by outside groups. DeSantis admitted to being ill-prepared to discuss race in an election of national import, having formerly represented a district with few minorities.

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Nonetheless, at a debate last month, Gillum delivered a line that is likely to stick with DeSantis as he heads to the Governor's Mansion.

"Now, I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist," Gillum said. "I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist."

DeSantis will succeed the term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who ran for U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson.