Rep. Allen West concedes House race to Patrick Murphyby George Bennett | November 20th, 2012
UPDATED with response from Murphy
Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West announced this morning that he won’t challenge Democrat Patrick Murphy’s narrow victory in their nationally watched battle for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 seat.
“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 released early this morning to The Palm Beach Post.
West later made his concession Fox-official by appearing briefly on Fox & Friends at about 6:15 a.m.
Murphy has led by less than 1 percent since election night. Final results Sunday from Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties gave the Democrat a lead over West of 1,904 votes or 0.58 percent.
Until now, West has refused to concede, citing admitted errors by St. Lucie County in its initial tallying of more than 37,000 ballots from early voting. West finally succeeded in getting the county to conduct a full retabulation of its early ballots, but the recount failed to reduce Murphy’s margin to the 0.5 percent or closer that would push the race into a full recount of the entire district.
“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 (Sunday’s) recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, under-counted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election,” West’s statement said.
Counties submitted their final results to the Division of Elections on Sunday. The state’s Elections Canvassing Board is scheduled to certify them this morning in Tallahassee.
West has 10 days from certification to contest the election. But an election contest is an uphill proposition in Florida.
State law limits the grounds for a contest to misconduct, fraud, bribery or corruption involving elections officials; ineligibility for office of the winning candidate; the receipt of enough illegal votes to put the outcome in doubt; or the rejection of enough legal votes to cast doubt on the outcome.
“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. “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.”
The West-Murphy contest was one of the costliest and nastiest House races in the nation. West spent more than $17 million and Murphy more than $3.6 million while outside PACs poured in more than $6 million more.
With his status as a tea party hero and his penchant for fiery rhetoric, West has been a national target for Democrats and liberals from the moment he took office.
A Murphy, a political newcomer who switched his voter registration from Republican to Democrat in 2011, based his campaign largely on depicting West as an extremist and polarizing figure.
West said members of the left-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus were communists, called Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz “vile” and “despicable” and “not a lady” and said Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would be proud of Democratic talking points on the budget.
West ran TV ads and posted roadside signs featuring Murphy’s police mug shot from 2003, when he was a 19-year-old University of Miami student arrested outside a Miami Beach club for disorderly intoxication and possessing a fake driver license.
The intoxication charge was ultimately dropped for lack of evidence and the fake ID charge was dismissed. Murphy called the incident “the biggest mistake of my life.”
West did not allude to any of the campaign’s bitterness in his statement today.
“I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own,” West said.
Murphy responded this morning by reaching out to West’s supporters.
“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 on Facebook. “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. I am excited and honored to get to work.”
West’s full statement follows:
“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 yesterday’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.
“Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life, but this seat does not belong to me, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people. I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.
“I must thank my wife Angela, and my daughters Aubrey and Austen for their support, patience, understanding and most of all, love. These are three of the toughest women I know. They have sent me off to defend our nation overseas at war and to Capitol Hill to serve our nation in the House of Representatives. They have all handled the challenges of these last few months, and the last many years, with amazing grace. I know they will be my side for whatever is our next chapter.
“I want to thank my congressional and campaign staff for their service, and most importantly, I want to thank all of our tremendous supporters who provided their time and money to power our campaign. I am humbled by the dedication and perseverance of our supporters, and their commitment to a free and prosperous America. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done for our campaign, but most importantly, what they have done, and will continue to do for our country. None of us should let the outcome discourage us. We should only redouble our resolve.
“Above all, I want to thank God for his blessings, and for blessing me with the opportunity to serve.
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.
“Our nation will not overcome our challenges overnight ,and the road ahead for each one of us will not be easy. But this nation would never have become that shining beacon of light if our founders had chosen the easy path 236 years ago. We all must proudly continue their legacy.
“For the protection and preservation of our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, I shall remain steadfast and loyal. God bless you and God bless these United States of America.”