WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Incumbent Republican Rep. Allen B. West cut into Democrat Patrick Murphy’s lead in a partial recount early Sunday, but still came up short of the challenger, who was declared the winner in the razor-thin District 18 race.
Still, Mr. West, the former Army lieutenant colonel who rode the tea party wave to victory in 2010, had not conceded the race.
Sunday’s partial recount put the vote at 166,223, or 50.28 percent, to Mr. West’s 164,316, or 49.7 percent — just outside the half-percent margin that state law requires for a full recount.
Mr. Murphy declared victory early Wednesday morning and has held his lead ever since, even as thousands of absentee and provisional ballots were processed. He issued a statement Saturday that it was time to end the campaign. He called his win a signal that voters were tired of the extremism he said Mr. West represented.
Mr. West’s campaign insists there are many unanswered questions in the race, mostly centered in St. Lucie County, the only one of three counties in the district that Mr. Murphy won. They are concerned that votes were counted twice and have asked to review sign-in books from the polls to ensure the number of voters matched the ballot count.
“We’re simply not going to just walk away from the race until we see that the numbers add up,” West campaign manager Tim Edson said.
Mr. West’s only path forward appears to be through the courts. Under state law, he still could contest the election if misconduct or fraud is suspected to have changed its result.
“If I come out on the short end of the stick, guess what?” Mr. West told WPEC-TV on Friday. “I salute the flag, I wish you good luck and I continue on, and hopefully my replacement will be able to go up and contend with these monumental issues.”
The race was the country’s most expensive House contest and one of the most closely watched. The two sides had raised nearly $21 million as of Oct. 17, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, and super PACs poured in about $6.6 million.
Mr. West, one of only two black Republicans in the House, quickly established a national profile during his term in office with tough, headline-grabbing criticisms of President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.