In what UPI's Gabrielle Levy describes as a "passive-aggressive" Facebook post, Republican Rep. Allen West conceded to his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, in FL's 18th Congressional District this morning.
Here's the first part of West's post...
While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results, and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and this past weekend's recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.
While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.
Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life, but this seat does not belong to me, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people.
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.
With West's concession, however, there are still a few points to keep in mind moving forward...
First, while West refers to there not being "enough...fraudulent votes" to change the outcome of the race, it should be noted that, to date, neither he nor his attorneys have presented substantiated evidence of any fraudulent votes, to our knowledge.
Moreover, while West charges "the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters," his team of incompetent attorneys were unable to demonstrate any inappropriate or illegal actions by either election official in either county. He's just tarring them, apparently, because that's what he does. West does not mention the Supervisor of Elections in Martin County, the third one that makes up FL-18, and the only county that the computer results report West as having won.
Yes, as we have noted in this matter, the oft-failed, easily-manipulated electronic tabulation systems that the state of Florida forces election officials to use had failed horrendously once again during the FL-18 election. That failure included the unexplained disappearance of some 800 votes when the paper ballot op-scan systems retabulated three days of Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie County a week ago Sunday. In other words, when the very same ballots were re-tallied on the very same machines (the same ones used in 34 other states, by the way) they came up with completely different results than they did the first time. But there is no evidence that that was the fault of the election officials forced to use those systems by the state of Florida.
As well, while 306 previously-untallied ballots were discovered in St. Lucie County just last Friday, there is no evidence that the oversight, egregious as it was, was due to a purposeful act by St. Lucie County's Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, who ended up being admitted to a hospital late last week, according to her attorney, for reasons unknown at this time.
Nonetheless, West, a far Rightwing "Tea Party" favorite, has a long history of inappropriate and unsubstantiated attacks on his fellow elected officials and colleagues, including the unsubstantiated allegation that some 80 members of the U.S. Congress are "communists".
His post-election campaign was run with no more dignity than the rest of his career as an elected official, with his campaign repeatedly claiming, without evidence, in post-election emails to supporters, that the election was being "stolen" from him by Democrats. One of his top campaign strategists, Chris LaCivita, a veteran of the discredited 2004 "Swift Boat" campaign, also launched unsubstantiated, obnoxious and inappropriate attacks on election officials: "Each day that Gertrude Walker and her collection of idiots continues to mismanage, misappropriate, and not do their job just provides us with more evidence to use in an election contest and makes it more likely that we will do that."
(It should also be noted that the behavior of Democrats during the post-election period was not much more impressive than West's. See the section entitled "Depends on Whose Ox is 'Gored?'" in our post yesterday to see how comments on the race by Democrats in 2012 were virtually indistinguishable for those made by Republicans during the 2000 Florida Presidential Election debacle.)
Concessions by candidates, however --- no matter how inappropriately they behaved in office or during post-election challenges --- have no actual legal standing on either final results or the official certification of an election. In this case, West's statement today indicates that he will not file an election contest, as would have been his legal right to do after the state's official certification of the race (expected today) and before November 30th.
As we noted in our coverage of this past weekend's wild turn of events in the FL-18 fight, after all eight days of Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie had been retabulated yet again (by the same faulty machines), and after Murphy's lead over West had increased by some 300 votes in the bargain, to just over 2,100 total (out of some 330,000 cast district-wide), a number of challenges to the results had already reportedly been filed by supporters of West, but not those officially employed by his campaign:
Moreover, a local resident who appears to be a Republican Party operative involved with dirty tricks in the past, "has petitioned Detzner," who was hand-picked for the job earlier this year by the state's very partisan Republican Gov. Rick Scott, "for a recount of all St. Lucie County ballots."
Those challenges, however, if history tells us anything, will most likely be ignored, and Murphy will most likely go on to be certified by the state as the winner and will take his oath of office with the rest of the new U.S. House members in January.
Incredibly, despite the long history of failure of all three different electronic tabulation systems, made by three different companies, used in the three different counties that comprise FL-18 (as we described in our original coverage of this race), West's attorneys were so incompetent, they never bothered to challenge the results for all ballots tabulated by them. That, even though just this past March the computer tabulation systems in Palm Beach County made by Sequoia Voting (which has now been purchased by the Canadian firm Dominion Voting) had announced the results of three different races incorrectly, naming two different losing candidates to be the "winners" of their races.
The company even admitted that the failure was due to a bug in all versions of its electronic voting systems, and Susan Bucher, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, subsequently told us during an exclusive interview that the same failure occurred yet again during the August state primaries, even after she had applied the "workaround" that the company had recommended.
The inaccurate March results in Palm Beach County, and the subsequent correct ones, were determined only by a public hand-count of all paper ballots in those elections. However, with Republicans so foolishly obsessed with the absurd chimera of incredibly infrequent "voter fraud", rather than the greater threat of insider election fraud or, even more of note here, very common tabulator errors by horribly designed computer systems, West's incompetent attorneys never bothered to insist on a public hand-count of all of the ballots in his race. Who knows what they might have found? Either way, that would have been the only way to know for certain who actually won and who actually lost the election. But getting it right has never been a trademark of Allen West.
One more thought, for now, and presuming there are no further surprises in this matter. While Democrats are understandably elated about the idea that West will not be in the U.S. House as of January (Dave Weigel describes the apparent defeat as "a brandy-soaked cherry on top of the Democrats' 2012 sundae"), as the very progressive Howie Klein of DownWithTyranny.com and ActBlue.com has written and told us again last night during our interview with him on the Mike Malloy Show, Murphy is "actually a Republican masquerading as a conservative Democrat."
Klein warns that Murphy, whose family has long been Republican until only recently, will be voting with the GOP in the House more often than not. We'll see if that's the case, but few understand the political leanings of the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House better than Klein, so we're inclined to give his warning a great deal of credence.
Slate's Weigel also points out that West is perfectly able to "bounce back in 2014". So, Democrats are on notice to enjoy that "brandy-soaked cherry" for as long as it may --- or may not --- last.