Rep. Allen West, a Florida Tea Party Republican who rode the wave of anti-spending fever to Congress in 2010, has conceded to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, who will take his seat as the youngest member of the 113 th Congress in January.
The Associated Press today called the race for Murphy. West conceded in a statement, while saying "there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results.
"For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly," West said. "While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election."
The race was decided by fewer than 2,000 votes, with Murphy topping West 166,233 to 164,316, according to the latest tally from the AP. The state of Florida must still certify the result.
"While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change," West continued. "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."
Murphy maintained a considerable lead while provisional and absentee ballots were counted, but West forged ahead with legal challenges.
"I appreciate Congressman West's gracious concession today," Murphy said today in a statement. "To those who supported my opponent, my door is open and I want to hear your voice. 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 is just the third Tea Party Republican to lose on Election Day, but he's the 10th Tea Party incumbent to vacate a seat in the House. Another Tea Party lawmaker, Jeff Landry, is in a runoff race with another GOP incumbent in Louisiana, but he placed second during the general election and is likely to lose the runoff. At least 49 members of the House Tea Party caucus won re-election.
Murphy is the vice president of Coastal Environmental Services, which specializes in disaster relief and environmental cleanup. He also spent six months cleaning up oil in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP spill in 2010.
Democrats were confident that Murphy would ultimately prevail, exhibited by his presence when he joined other newly elected lawmakers for orientation last week at the Capitol.
Murphy even stood next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a news conference last Tuesday where she welcomed the incoming class of Democrats. It was a telling picture one day before she announced she would run for Democratic leader again despite rampant speculation she would retire when Democrats failed to retake the majority.
After she concluded her opening statement, Pelosi, 72, turned to the youthful Murphy, boasting that the "election sends a message to a new generation of Americans that their voices will be heard at the table."
Then Murphy, who was born March 30, 1983, introduced himself to the Capitol Hill press corps.
"My name is Patrick Murphy from Florida District 18, the youngest new member of Congress," Murphy said Nov. 13. "I just defeated somebody you all may know, a guy named Allen West. You guys may have heard of him."
If you hadn't before, now you've heard of Patrick Murphy.