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Backroom briefing not wasting any time in claiming recount victories

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As machine recounts and legal fights continued in three statewide races in the Nov. 6 election, candidates leading the contests started to act like winners.

Gov. Rick Scott, who led in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, traveled to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday for new-member orientation, putting on a display that his unofficial 12,562-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson assured him of victory.

Before Scott headed north, his campaign said the governor viewed the trip as starting “his mission of reforming D.C. and making it work for Florida families --- not career politicians.”

During the visit, he was among a group greeted by U.S. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, even taking part in a photo sent out with the tag line, “A warm welcome to the incoming class of Republican Senators.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, quietly went about getting himself familiar with the state Capitol and the governor’s office, while his unofficial lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum stood at more than 33,000 votes.

DeSantis, who earlier announced a transition team topped by political guru Susie Wiles, started to name long-time Tallahassee insiders to his transition operation.

“We are excited to announce this great team of professionals who will help us build a larger staffing framework to serve Governor-elect DeSantis,” Wiles said in a statement.

Among those on the transition staff are James Blair, a longtime adviser to House Speaker Richard Corcoran who will serve as director of policy; and Chris Clark, a chief of staff for former Senate President Don Gaetz who will be director of recruiting.

Others on the team have worked for Scott, DeSantis’ former congressional office, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, and state Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs.

Meanwhile, Democrat Nikki Fried, who held a narrow lead over Republican Matt Caldwell in the race for agriculture commissioner, sent out what could be considered her first job-related email --- even if it was from her personal Twitter account.

“Florida farmers & ranchers—if you suffered damage to working lands or livestock mortality due to#HurricaneMichael, the first sign-up period for disaster assistance ends this Friday, November 16th.,” Fried tweeted, with a link to a Southeast AgNet story.

Fried has also joined DeSantis in rolling out transition team leaders.

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy will chair the Fried team with Central Florida Congressman Darren Soto and Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“Congressman Murphy, Congressman Soto, and Mr. Guttenberg bring experience, expertise and leadership that will ensure my administration can navigate the transition process successfully, bring in the right stakeholders and help build a strong team at the Department (of Agriculture and Consumer Services),” Fried said in a statement.