MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s been nearly two weeks since voters chose who would represent them, but the 18th Congressional seat remains in flux because Republican Allen West is refusing to admit he lost the race and concede.
West lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy in a contentious and expensive contest for the 18th Congressional seat. But West has demanded a recount because of reported problems in St. Lucie County.
On Sunday, there was a recount of early voting ballots in Fort Pierce. The outcome: West gained 32 votes and Murphy added 274 votes.
However because the recount results were not submitted before a noon deadline on Sunday; the previous results which showed Murphy ahead by a smaller margin had to be submitted to the state for certification.
Afterwards West issued this statement:
“Since election Day we have been working for a fair and accurate accouting of the election outcome in which voters can put their full trust. We will review the results and the other available data to determine how to proceed. I have been humbled by the support we have received and the hard work of so many to ensure the integrity of this process. We look forward to the report which will be issued by the secretary of State’s auditors this coming week which we hope will shed light on some of the outstanding issues.”
For Murphy it’s over.
“It’s great news for us,” Murphy told CBS 4 on Monday regarding the addition of 274 votes in St. Lucie County.
As for West’s refusal to concede, he said, “There have been numerous ballots that have been recounted and retabulated three times. We are confident in these results. I’m on a good footing and we are ready to get to work in Washington. We have been declared the winner by all major news organizations. I will be ready to hit the ground running when I’m sworn in January.”
As for further legal challenges, Murphy says that will be up to a judge.
West can launch a legal challenge called an election contest in court, but he has to do that by the end of November.
CBS4 tried to reach West on Monday and members of his campaign but our calls were not returned.
“I think Allen West and anybody who voted for him in this race has a legitimate complaint. There were clearly errors made. Some of those errors were double counting and missing votes,” says FAU Political Science Professor Kevin Wagner.
Still Wagner says West may have a difficult time getting a judge to approve a total recount.
“You have to find a level of irregularities enough where the court thinks the electoral outcome was unlikely to be right. But you would have to invoke Federal laws such as civil rights or fraud,” Wagner said. “It would be a long shot for West at this point.”
But it is a risk West may be willing to take.