- - Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rep. Allen B. West, a Republican, took the first steps in a legal challenge Wednesday in his closely watched re-election bid even as his Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, declared a razor-thin victory.

Mr. West, who has made national headlines for his fiery tea party rhetoric, filed motions asking a judge to require election officials to impound ballots and voting machines. Separately, his campaign alleged “disturbing irregularities” at the polls and called for a recount.

The conservative congressman refused to concede, but Mr. Murphy seized on the projections of several news organizations and declared himself the victor after a long and often vicious campaign. It was unclear what effect Mr. West’s actions could have on Mr. Murphy’s 2,456-vote lead in the unofficial count, but the Republican’s hopes appeared to be fading.

“You can always file a lawsuit,” said constitutional lawyer Bob Jarvis of Nova Southeastern University, “but I don’t see that as a viable option.”

Mr. Murphy had 50.4 percent of the vote, giving him a margin of about three-quarters of a percentage point. That is above the threshold for a recount under state law. All precincts had reported their tallies, but Mr. West held out hope for a surge of support from provisional and other outstanding ballots. That looked increasingly unlikely.

Still, Mr. West showed no signs of backing down two years after he came into office on the 2010 Republican Party wave. He did not appear at his election night party, but his campaign manager, Tim Edson, issued a statement urging patience.

“This race is far from decided, and there is no rush to declare an outcome,” Mr. Edson said. “Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance.”

WHITE HOUSE

Obama drops by to thank staff at Chicago headquarters

With the election behind him and a second term cinched, President Obama visited his Chicago campaign headquarters Wednesday afternoon to thank staff and volunteers for their hard work throughout the campaign.

As he entered the building, the office erupted in applause with aides rising to their feet to give him a standing ovation with some scrambling on top of desks to get a good look at him.

The president told the assembled foot soldiers that he derives much of his motivation and inspiration from the work they do every day and spent more than a half-hour circling the office and shaking hands.

CAMPAIGN

Kaine looks forward to payout of TV bet

Democrat Tim Kaine, who narrowly won a bruising marathon of a campaign against Republican George Allen for U.S. Senate in Virginia, said Wednesday that he is looking forward to seeing a little extra facial hair on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough — the would-be result of a rather odd bet Mr. Scarborough made recently with Obama senior adviser David Axelrod.

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