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Florida: West Concedes to Murphy

West will not be returning to the 113th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
West will not be returning to the 113th Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Florida Republican Rep. Allen B. West, one of the highest-profile and most-controversial members of the 2010 freshman class, conceded to Democrat Patrick Murphy after a nasty, brutish and long campaign.

“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 Tuesday. “While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change.”

He added: “I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from the 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.”

Election Day results left West trailing Murphy by almost 2,000 votes but he pressed for retabulation of early votes in St. Lucie County, one of three in the newly configured 18th District. After a judge declined to order the retabulation — in effect, a recount — the county canvassing board decided to go ahead with the procedure. That was completed Sunday and ended up increasing Murphy’s margin of victory, giving West few avenues to continue to contest the election’s results.

West, perhaps the fieriest of the firebrand freshman class, is best known for his made-for-cable-TV statements and his partisan hyperbole. He is beloved by a wide swath of conservative activists across the country, who boosted him to the highest levels of fundraising success.

He raised more than $17 million this cycle, a gargantuan sum for a House campaign. Murphy raised more than $3.7 million and had third-party groups to come to his aid.

But outside the limelight, West was also a convincing explainer for conservative principles and a gifted campaigner with discipline learned over a career as a military officer. He was capable of thoughtfully peppering discussions of the nation’s debt and deficit with references to Plato and ancient history.

West moved after redistricting, running in the 18th District instead of the 22nd, which he currently represents. The 22nd grew substantially more Democratic in the redraw, but even in the near evenly partisan 18th, West’s cross-party appeal proved too small.

Murphy hammered West on TV for his votes and his more out-there statements. That probably made a difference. But the fact that president Barack Obama did so well in Florida likely had the biggest effect on Murphy’s victory.

Given his ability to raise money and rally the conservative base, West’s political career is probably not over.

But for those who will miss having a hyper-partisan member, skilled in rhetorical bomb-throwing, representing the Sunshine State, there’s some solace to be had in West’s loss. Former Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., will be joining the 113th Congress in January.

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