West refuses to concede as opponent arrives in DC for orientation events

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is refusing to concede to Democrat Patrick Murphy, but that hasn’t kept Murphy from Washington.

Murphy arrived in the Capitol on Monday to attend orientation events with his fellow incoming lawmakers, even as the result of his race awaits final certification.

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With only a handful of military and overseas ballots outstanding, Democrats believe little will change after Friday, when the final ballots are due.

Following a partial recount, both West’s and Murphy’s vote totals were revised downward, but Murphy has 50.3 percent of the vote — a 1,907-ballot lead that puts him ahead by nearly 0.6 percentage points, just outside the 0.5 percentage point threshold that would force a recount, according to Florida election law.

Although West took an early lead on election night, Murphy surged ahead after officials reran a number of ballots through scanners that weren’t initially counted due to machine malfunctions.

West immediately called for a full recount, but the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections agreed only to recount those ballots that officials said were affected by the malfunction.

After an unofficial certification of the results was issued Saturday afternoon, West’s campaign issued a release from campaign manager Tim Edson that alleged the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections was trying to “steal the election for Patrick Murphy.”

“West for Congress will pursue every legal means necessary to ensure a fair election, not only to ensure Gertrude Walker is held accountable, but also ultimately replaced, so the citizens of St. Lucie County will be ensured fair and accurate elections,” he said in the statement.

After the results are officially certified Friday, West will have 10 days to contest the outcome of the race in court, but Eric Johnson, a senior adviser to Murphy’s campaign, isn’t concerned about the court allowing him a recount.

“That is highly, highly unlikely to be successful, because if it were successful, every candidate in Florida would ask for that recount,” he said.

Michele Hickford, spokeswoman for West’s campaign, said they are reviewing all legal options at this time.

However, Michael McDonald, associate professor of government and politics at George Mason University, said that there might be grounds for a full recount because the total number of votes cast had shifted so much after the partial recount.

“I think that a court would at least want to look and figure out why these election results are so different now,” he said.

He added, though, that historically, recounts confirm the initial outcome of the election.

The Murphy-West match-up has been one of the nastiest and most expensive in the nation. The two candidates had raised nearly $21 million for the battle as of Oct. 17, and outside groups spent at least $6 million more to sway the outcome, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It featured biting ads from both sides, with West using Murphy’s mugshot from an underage-drinking incident in one ad, and a group backing Murphy portraying a caricature of West punching an elderly white woman and taking money from a black family in an ad Republicans decried as racist.

Even though West has not yet conceded — and The Associated Press has not yet called the race — Johnson said Murphy was continuing with business as usual this week, operating on the assumption that he’ll be sworn in with the rest of the freshman class in January.

“It would certainly be less difficult if Congressman West conceded, but it’s not slowing Patrick Murphy down from going about the job he was elected to do,” he said.

Johnson said, however, that the Murphy campaign is incurring legal costs because of West’s refusal to concede, and he’s unsure how much the process will eventually cost.

Though most campaigns have largely stopped sending out fundraising requests, Murphy’s campaign has sent out a smattering of emails to supporters over the past week asking for monetary help to fend off West’s efforts.

The race for Florida’s 18th district is one of the few in the nation that remains unresolved, with candidates in Arizona’s 2nd district, California’s 7th and 52nd and North Carolina’s 7th district likewise unsure of their political fates.

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) led Republican Martha McSally in Arizona’s 2nd district as of Monday afternoon, but by a little more than 700 votes, with a handful of provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted.

In California’s 7th district, Democrat Ami Bera is ahead of Rep. Dan Lungren (R) by nearly 1,700 votes, but neither candidate has declared victory. In the state’s 52nd district, Democrat Scott Peters leads Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) by just over 1,300 votes.

And in North Carolina, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) leads his Republican challenger, David Rouzer, by 420 votes, as of Monday afternoon.