It took two weeks, but Florida Rep. Allen West conceded defeat Tuesday by Democrat Patrick Murphy, deciding not to further contest the close race.
“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,” West said in a statement.
Murphy’s slim lead of 0.58 of a percentage point, a margin of just over 2,000 votes, rests barely above the 0.5-percent margin that automatically would have prompted a recount under Florida law.
“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,” West said.
West had previously called for partial recounts, alleging that Democrat Gertrude Walker, the St. Lucie County election supervisor, had engaged in foul play, though a judge rebuffed a request for a recount of all early voters Friday.
The race for Florida’s 18th district was a particular focal point for Democrats, who were looking to oust West, a Tea Party favorite who has grabbed headlines with controversial assertions and accusations since his election in 2010.
Murphy, a 29-year-old construction executive and first-time candidate, had never considered the outcome of the race in doubt. He claimed victory the day after the election and was in Washington last week to attend an orientation for new House members.
His defeat of West, coupled with his youth, has made him a fast-rising star in the Democratic Party.
“His election sends a message to a new generation of Americans that their voices will be heard at the table,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said last week at a press conference introducing the newly elected Democrats. Murphy also spoke at that event, on behalf of the new class.
“Throughout this campaign, the one message I heard time after time was the need for bipartisanship, to reach across the aisle,” Murphy said. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Responding Wednesday to West’s admission of defeat, Murphy applauded the decision.
“I appreciate Congressman West’s gracious concession today. I am truly humbled that the voters of the 18th district have entrusted me to represent them in Washington. To those who supported my opponent, my door is open and I want to hear your voice,” Murphy said in a statement. “I campaigned on a message of reaching across the aisle to get things done for the people of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches, and that is as important in this district as it is in Washington. “