As I reported last night in Tea Party Demagogue Allen West Ousted By Blue Collar Newcomer, Republican Florida Congressman, Allen West, lost his seat to Patrick Murphy in a tight contest that never offered a gap large enough to keep suspicion from the door. At least Mr. West’s. And Mr. West does not go down easy.
CBS Miami reports that, given the small number of votes that separate the men (2,400 at last count), West’s campaign refuses to concede and, in fact, has filed a motion with the court to do a recount and impound all voting machines. Campaign manager, Tim Edison, released the following statement:
“This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district.”
“Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections ‘recounted’ thousands of early ballots. Following that ‘recount’ Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes. In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results.“
Implications of vote tampering notwithstanding, he may have a point about the count, which is so close even the Associated Press has not declared an official winner.
Liberals and moderates have widely celebrated West’s presumed loss with a of “ding dong, the witch is dead” level of enthusiasm. Given his Tea Party extremism and an unseemly relationship with incendiary rhetoric, West has engendered considerable antipathy on the Left, who view his toppling as part of the bigger sweep of Right Wing fundamentalism from office. West is, in fact, so well known for his abrasive and the often head-scratching accusations hurled at his opponents, he inspired progressive site, ThinkProgress, to compile a list of Rep. Allen West’s 15 Most Outrageous Statements. A quick view will offer ample evidence of his less-than-conciliatory demeanor.
But regardless of ill-will on one side and heels dug in on the other, the fact remains that even if the differential remains as low as 2,400, that number is large enough to prevent an automatic recount, per Florida law. As the CBS piece points out:
“If the percentage does not fit within the statutory criteria for recounts, there exists no statutory mechanism for a candidate, group, or anyone else to have a recount done by the state or any supervisor of elections,” Florida elections spokesman Chris Cate told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
Cate continued, “Also, we will not know if a recount is within the required percentage until we receive the first set of unofficial returns from each of the counties involved. They are not due until noon, Saturday.”
Given that the ballots of Democratic-leaning Palm Beach County are still being counted, it’s likely Patrick Murphy’s numbers will increase, making the entire argument moot. Until that’s determined, the dancing in the street would be wise to pause. But hold your places…the wind appears to be blowing in the direction of “kicking the bums out.”