Thwarted in attempts to change the outcome of a razor thin race, U.S. Rep Allen West early Tuesday conceded to his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. The concession increases Democrats’ pick-ups in the House to eight, for a total of 200 seats to the GOP’s 233.
In a statement, West said he would drop further efforts to change the outcome of the Nov. 6 election in which Murphy appeared to win the Congressional District 18 race by less than 1 percent of the vote.
After a recount of early voting ballots did not make a significant dent in Murphy’s lead, West said it would be imprudent to ask his contributors, who had already given his campaign more than $17 million, to spend even more with only a slim chance of success.
“While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change,” West said in a statement.
Following a bitter campaign and weeks of uncertainty, Murphy’s campaign was quick to respond.
“I appreciate Congressman West’s gracious concession today,” Murphy said in a statement. “I am truly humbled that the voters of the 18th district have entrusted me to represent them in Washington.”
The West-Murphy race was one of the nation’s most expensive, and most brutal, Congressional campaigns. Combined, the two candidates raised more than $21 million. Outside groups added millions more.
Elected amid the tea party wave in 2010, West had collected more than $17 million in contributions from across the country as conservative contributors opened their wallets to the often-controversial freshman.
Trailing Murphy by 1,907 votes, or 0.58 percent, the West campaign last week filed a complaint in St. Lucie County Circuit Court asking a judge to order a recount of all 37,379 ballots cast in the 18th Congressional District race in the county during early voting.
State law allows counties to retabulate votes if unofficial results may contain a tabulating error. St. Lucie Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker said that while mistakes were made in uploading results, the errors were corrected and she remained “confident that every vote has been counted.”
The final tally posted on the Division of Election website Tuesday had Murphy with a 1,904 lead out of more than 330,000 votes cast. Still behind by less than the 0.5 percent that would trigger a recount, West threw in the towel.
“While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election,” West said. .
The certification deadline for the race was Tuesday morning.
–Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida