Florida's West to fight defeat in U.S. House race

MIAMI Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:34pm EST

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West speaks at a campaign stop with guests at SCORE South Palm Beach, a resource partner to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in Boca Raton, Florida October 18, 2012. West faces Democrat Patrick Murphy in a hotly contested election next month. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West speaks at a campaign stop with guests at SCORE South Palm Beach, a resource partner to the U.S. Small Business Administration, in Boca Raton, Florida October 18, 2012. West faces Democrat Patrick Murphy in a hotly contested election next month.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Tea Party-backed Republican U.S. Representative Allen West said he was still not ready to concede defeat on Sunday, almost two weeks after the November 6 election, when the clock ran out on a partial recount in South Florida.

Results showing West trailing Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by 1,900 votes were expected to be turned over to the state Division of Elections to be ratified on Tuesday.

West was granted a recount of early ballots in St. Lucie County during the weekend, but officials were unable to complete the process before time ran out at midday on Sunday.

"Today at noon, it became clear Patrick Murphy will be officially certified as the next congressman from the 18th Congressional District," said Murphy's campaign manager, Anthony Kusich. "It is beyond time to put this campaign behind us."

Under Florida law in the event of an incomplete recount the original returns are automatically submitted for certification. St. Lucie County officials went ahead and completed the recount later on Sunday, extending Murphy's lead to 2,100 votes.

"This election is far from over," West's campaign manager, Tim Edson, said in a statement that called the results "highly suspect."

"We will continue to fight on behalf of all voters in District 18 to ensure a fair and accurate count of their votes," he added, without saying how the campaign planned to challenge the result.

West, 51, a former Army lieutenant colonel, is seeking his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republicans held onto their majority in the election.

With the help of the conservative Tea Party movement, West amassed one of the largest campaign war chests among House Republicans. His supporters include Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

Murphy, 29, a political newcomer in his first congressional race, ran a surprisingly well-backed campaign focused on branding West as a divisive right-wing extremist.

(Writing by David Adams; Editing by Jackie Frank and Bill Trott)

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