Florida Rep. Allen West's reelection prospects grew dimmer Sunday, as a recount of early ballots showed him falling further behind his Democratic opponent.
Democrat Patrick Murphy, a 29-year-old construction company executive, gained 242 votes after the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections completed its re-tabulation, increasing his lead to more than 2,100 votes over West, a tea party hero. Murphy's lead is just outside the 0.5 percent margin that would trigger an automatic district-wide recount under Florida law.
West won a legal battle Friday when the office's canvassing board decided to re-tally all early votes that had been cast. The Republican had argued that those votes had been accidentally double-counted on election night and provided a winning margin to Murphy.
But with Murphy's margin growing after the recount, West's legal options appeared to narrow. With St. Lucie County having a noon deadline Sunday for certifying its election results, Murphy's campaign argued that the election was effectively over. Florida has a Tuesday deadline for certifying the results from all three counties that make up the 18th Congressional District.
"By state law, he is effectively the winner," Eric Johnson, a senior Murphy advisor, said in an interview.
Tim Edson, West's campaign manager, said the advisers would be spending the coming hours assessing the vote totals. He did not specify whether the congressman had any plans to concede. Advisers said it was unlikely any decision would come Sunday.
"We're going to take a look at where things stand," Edson said. "If we believe the results are fair and accurate, we're going to decide how to move forward. That decision has not been made."
The fresh results marked the latest chapter in an increasingly chaotic and drawn-out election, which has extended nearly two weeks past the Nov. 6 election.
Gertrude Walker, the St. Lucie elections supervisor, has acknowledged errors in counting ballots, saying there was an initial error in feeding memory cards from voting machines through the vote-counting system. At a press conference last week, Walker said her office had acted in "haste" to make public results on Nov. 6 and that "mistakes were made." On Friday, at a canvassing board hearing, the office announced that it had found 304 early-cast ballots in a box that had previously been uncounted.
Source: Politico.com | ALEX ISENSTADT