Freshman Republican firebrand Rep. Allen West (FL) has all but officially lost his reelection bid, with the state of Florida releasing complete vote tallies Saturday that showed him trailing Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by a large enough margin to prevent an automatic recount.
Just don't tell that to West.
Despite the announcement of the final vote count, West has refused to concede the race, with his campaign saying they will wait to see the numbers for themselves before deciding to call it quits.
"We're simply not going to just walk away from the race until we see that the numbers add up," West's campaign manager, Tim Edson, told the Associated Press.
The race in Florida's 18th District was one of the nastiest and most closely contested campaigns this year, with West and Murphy spending a combined $17 million, making it the third-most expensive House race of 2012, according to data from Open Secrets. Most of that sum came from West's team, which spent $13.7 million in the losing effort, third most among House candidates behind only to Michele Bachmann's (R-MI) $19.3 million and House Speaker John Boehner's $20 million.
In the final tally released Saturday, West trailed by 2,442 votes, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. Florida officials have not yet formally called the race in Murphy's favor.
The twenty-nine year-old Murphy had never before campaigned for public office. He said the Tea Party sickened him so much that he felt compelled to oppose West, and to switch from being a Romney-backing Republican to a Democrat in 2011.
West, a former Army officer who retired in 2004 following allegations that he'd fired a gun alongside the head of an uncooperative detainee, swept into office in the 2010 wave election behind strong support from the Tea Party. He, perhaps more than any other freshman from that class, exemplified the Tea Party movements populist, partisan vitriol.
After taking office, West continued to make a name for himself with his staunchly conservative dogma and proclivity to launch controversial, unprompted barbs at his opposition. Among his more memorable highlights from the past two years:
- West accused Democrats of trying to keep blacks "on the plantation," and likened himself to a modern-day Harriet Tubman.
- Headed toward a blowout win in 2010, West accused feminists and "girly men" of wrecking the country.
- Channeling the ghost of red-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy, West declared that as many as 80 House Democrats were communists.
- Comparing guns to health care, West suggested the government should mandate that everyone has to buy a pistol.
- At a GOP fundraiser earlier this year, West fired up donors and attendees by saying Democrats and Obama should, "get the hell out of America."
Murphy declared victory Wednesday morning when it seemed impossible that West could make up the vote difference from the outstanding ballots. West can still challenge the results and ask for a recount, though it's not likely a judge would grant that request; on Friday, a judge denied a request from the West team to impound ballots and voting machines for review.