- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rep. Allen B. West’s concession Tuesday that he lost his bid for re-election means the 113th Congress will open in January with only one black Republican in either chamber — a rough end to a year when the GOP had high hopes for expanding the diversity of its caucus.

Mr. West, a tea-party favorite, had spent the past two weeks fighting for a recount in his race against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, but on Tuesday Mr. West said he had crunched the numbers and realized he would not be able to make up enough ground to hang onto his seat.

His loss leaves Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina as the sole black Republican in Congress and has the party searching for answers.

“I wouldn’t draw any cosmic lessons from the fact that this was a disappointing year for black Republican candidates. It was an even poorer year for black Democratic House candidates running in non-African American districts,” said former Rep. Artur Davis, who left the Democratic Party this year and became a key black backer of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Republicans had four top-tier black candidates in the House this year: incumbents Mr. West and Mr. Scott, and challengers Mia Love in Utah and Vernon Parker in Arizona.

Only Mr. Scott, a first-term incumbent in South Carolina, won.

In 2010, Republicans ran more black candidates than they did this year, and victories by Mr. West and Mr. Scott gave the GOP their first black lawmakers since 2003.

Mr. Scott told the Charleston Post and Courier this week that the GOP didn’t fail on principles as much as it did on the way it conveyed the message.

“I believe we were right on the issues, most consistently right,” he told the paper, but added, “perhaps we were wrong on the level of passion that could be sensed in connecting with voters.”

Mr. West did not go without a fight.

He had challenged vote counting in St. Lucie County, and earned a partial recount of ballots there over the weekend. But that recount actually showed Mr. Murphy, his Democratic opponent, expanding his lead to more than half a percentage point.

“I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success,” Mr. West said in a statement early Tuesday in announcing his concession.

In an email to supporters, Mr. Murphy called Mr. West’s concession “gracious” and the congressman-elect said he will continue his preparations to take the seat Jan. 3, when the next Congress is sworn in.

“I campaigned on a message that reaching across the aisle is as important in this district as it is in Washington,” he said. “To those who supported my opponent, my door is open and I want to hear your voice.”

With that result, the House’s makeup is nearly settled: Democrats will hold 200 seats in the House next year to the GOP’s 234, with one North Carolina race still to be decided. Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre leads Republican challenger David Rouzer by fewer than 700 votes. Mr. Rouzer on Tuesday asked for a recount.

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