One of the last Election Day questions has been answered after two weeks of fumbling by official in St. Lucie County, Florida. The recanvasses and recount of the vote has left Rep. Allen West over 1900 votes short of victory, and early this morning West conceded the race to Patrick Murphy:
Florida Rep. Allen West – the tea party pugilist and face of the class of House Republicans that stormed to power two years ago – conceded Tuesday to 29-year-old construction executive Patrick Murphy in one of the nation’s highest-profile congressional races.
After two weeks of battle with St. Lucie County elections officials – and a recount of early votes that wound up extending Murphy’s lead – West acknowledged that he couldn’t surmount his 1,904-vote, or 0.58 percent, deficit. That difference was just outside the 0.5 percent threshold to automatically trigger a recount of all votes.
The West campaign sent out a lengthy statement by e-mail to the media this morning:
For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process. While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.
While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results, and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and this past weekend’s recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.
While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.
West also hinted that Florida voters haven’t seen the last of him:
Only God knows what is in store for each of us. I have dedicated my life to serving this nation, and the results of this election will not change my purpose. Just as I did in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, just as I did on Capitol Hill, I will continue to fight for our Republic.
At the very least, West will have more time now to work with grassroots conservatives in organizing opposition to Democratic policies. West has been a star at events like CPAC and Tea Party rallies and conventions, and that will only increase after this tough loss. Don’t be too surprised if West challenges Murphy in 2014, when Barack Obama’s campaign isn’t around to drive turnout and the incumbent President typically loses seats in Congress. This race was narrow enough that even just a little buyer’s remorse could make the difference in two years.