Gillum, who was trying to become the state's first black governor, told a crowd gathered on the campus of Florida A&M University, "I sincerely regret I couldn't bring it home for you".
Democrats scored big victories on Tuesday in governor races in MI and Kansas, U.S. states that voted for Republican President Donald Trump in 2016, while the hotly contested gubernatorial elections in Georgia and Florida remained too close to call.
Democrats won governorships on Tuesday in several US states that supported Republican President Donald Trump in 2016 but lost high-profile races in Florida and OH, as voters cast ballots in dozens of gubernatorial contests across the country.
Gillum portrayed DeSantis as racially divisive, repeatedly pointing out his "monkey this up" comment and noting that a major DeSantis contributor called former President Barack Obama the N-word on Twitter and DeSantis refused to return his money. Neither Georgia nor Florida has elected a Democratic governor in 20 years. He has also criticized Gov. Rick Scott (R) for opposing Medicaid expansion. He conceded to DeSantis, who has been an outspoken supporter of President Trump, saying he still "believes in the long run, good always wins over evil".
Those performances endeared DeSantis with Republican primary voters in Florida who watch Fox regularly, but they did little to improve the congressman's name recognition among independent voters and did nothing to hone his positions on Florida-specific issues.
DeSantis won with 49.7 percent of the votes, with ballots in his favour totalling 4,052,118 votes.
DeSantis narrowly beat Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the state's top race.
New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is youngest woman elected to Congress
Women not only ran for office at an unprecedented rate, several knocked off white male incumbents during their party primaries. House of Representatives, giving them the opportunity to block Trump's agenda and open his administration to intense scrutiny.
It was Trump's support, including a July endorsement rally in Tampa, that helped propel DeSantis past a better-funded and more widely known opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, in the August 28 Republican primary.
Republicans controlled 33 governors' mansions and two-thirds of state legislative chambers going into Tuesday.
DeSantis gave up running for his congressional seat in order to focus on the race for governor.
In Oklahoma, Republican Kevin Stitt defeated Democrat Drew Edmondson, dashing Democratic hopes that outgoing Republican Governor Mary Fallin's low approval numbers had provided a rare opportunity in a deeply conservative state.
Trump was heavily invested in the race, making two visits to the state in the final week of the campaign. In the largest counties, that could affect the differences by as many as 2,000 total votes. Despite implications that DeSantis was racially insensitive - an idea he angrily disputed during a debate - he was able to win the state that Trump carried in 2016.
Joyner said he moved to Florida to vote in the race.