After a prolonged recall drama, incumbent Rep. Allen West (R-FL) has finally conceded defeat to Democratic upstart Patrick Murphy.
West, the Tea Party favorite who entered politics after being relieved of his Army command for torturing a detainee in the Iraq war, conceded Tuesday after fighting a two-week battle with St. Lucie County election officials during which a recount of early votes actually gave Murphy a bigger lead.
"For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly," West, 51, said in his concession statement. "We have made progress toward that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process."
"While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election."
Murphy, 29, was outspent 4-1 by the West campaign, which resorted to nasty attack ads in its ultimately unsuccessful bid to galvanize voters against the young upstart. It was Murphy's first run at public office against the well-known West, a former Army colonel lionized as a 'war hero.'
But others call West a war criminal. In December 2003, he was charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice for an incident in which his men severely beat a detainee during the US occupation of Iraq. Col. West fired a gun next to the prisoner's head and also threatened to kill him, both criminal acts prohibited under both US and international law. Col. West was fined $5,000 and relieved of his command, but was allowed to retire from the Army.
In Congress, Rep. West was unabashedly conservative and a vociferous critic of Democrats. He called President Barack Obama "the dumbest person in America." In a throwback to McCarthyism, he accused scores of House Democrats of being members of the Communist party. He blasted DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member" of the House and said she was "not a lady." He called Obama supporters a "threat to the gene pool" and told those with whom he disagreed to "get the hell out of America," memorable quotes recited by children in a Murphy campaign ad highlighting some of his more outrageous statements.
In the end, the voters of South Florida had simply had enough of Allen West.