In conceding defeat to Republican Renee Ellmers Friday, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) blamed his loss on a bad environment for Democrats and "dirty politics by Washington D.C. partisan operatives."

After a recount of votes in the state's 2nd congressional district concluded Friday, Etheridge conceded defeat in an afternoon news conference. 

In a statement from his campaign, the seven-term congressman said, "The combination of the national tide that swept the country, massive amounts of secret corporate cash funding a campaign of distortions, and dirty politics by Washington D.C. partisan operatives was just too much to overcome." 

Etheridge's reelection bid first gained national attention after a video of him in a confrontation with two young men hit YouTube earlier this year. The New York Times reported earlier this month that Republican strategists have now admitted they were behind the incident.

During the campaign, the Democrat also bemoaned the outside spending from the conservative group Americans for Job Security, which ran ads hitting Etheridge. 

Etheridge went on to congratulate Ellmers in the statement and tout accomplishments during his time in Congress.

In a statement, Ellmers said she received a "gracious" concession call from Etheridge Friday. 

"This is the way American Democracy works: Through elections," Ellmers said. "That, inevitably, leads to debate and conflict which can be bruising. It is, I can now say from experience, at times a harsh endeavor." 

The win for Ellmers was one of 2010's biggest upsets. It was the first run for public office by the Republican, who won the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and was heavily outspent by Etheridge. She defeated the longtime congressman despite receiving no help from the national Republican Party.