- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2012

One of the loudest mouths in Congress is trying to preserve his voice, as Republican Rep. Allen B. West is pushing back at election results in South Florida that show him trailing his Democratic challenger by a razor-thin margin.

The contest is one of nine House races nationwide that were undecided as of Thursday — two days after the nation went to the polls — with seven showing Democrats in the lead.

Mr. West, a tea party icon involved in one of the nastiest and most-expensive House races in the country, trailed Patrick Murphy by less than 1 percent of the vote. The West campaign says there is “no rush to declare an outcome” because absentee, military and provisional ballots are still being counted.

Mr. West blamed “voting irregularities,” particularly in St. Lucie County, for resulting in his early lead hours after the polls closed flipping into a 2,400-vote deficit. The Republican suggested to Fox News radio on Thursday he is trailing because ballot counters illegally “went behind closed doors, locked doors, and they recounted votes that already were counted.”

“We want to make sure there’s a fair and open electoral process, and there’s some violations of Florida state law,” said Mr. West, who has demanded a hand recount. “There are some things that people have to answer for.”

The Murphy campaign mostly has been mum on situation, saying the Democrat “is grateful to the voters for electing him.”

“People are ready for the campaign season to be over and for the people they elected to get to work,” said Murphy campaign spokeswoman Erin Moffet.

The two candidates and their allies in recent months bombarded the South Florida airwaves with some of the most aggressive attack ads shown anywhere during the 2012 campaign season.

Mr. West debuted an ad in September that juxtaposed his Army career with Mr. Murphy’s 2003 arrest in connection with a disturbance outside a South Florida nightclub. The Democrat hit back days later with an ad challenging the incumbent’s military record, accusing the Republican of criminal activity in an incident regarding an Iraqi prisoner.

In California, three Republican incumbents could see their congressional service end.

Republican Rep. Dan Lungren trailed Democratic challenger Ami Bera by fewer than 200 votes Thursday, with ballot counting expected to continue to next week. The race for the Sacramento-area district, which is nearly split between registered Democrats and Republicans, was among the most fiercely contested in the nation, and attracted more than $8.3 million in spending by outside groups.

Elsewhere in California, Democrat Scott Peters was leading seven-term Republican Rep. Rep. Brian P. Bilbray by a fewer than 1,000 votes. And Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s bid for a ninth term may be over, as ballot tallies show her losing to Democrat Raul Ruiz by about 4,500 votes.

Another House race too close to call is in southeast Arizona, where Democrat Rep. Ron Barber trails Republican Martha McSally by fewer than 500 votes. The incumbent only assumed office in June after winning a special election to succeed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who resigned after suffering serious injuries during an assassination attempt in early 2011. Mr. Barber was an aide to the former congresswoman.

Also in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema holds a slim lead over Republican Vernon Parker.

Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah Democrat, appears to have won a tight race over GOP challenger Mia Love, who conceded defeat. But the incumbent’s 2,600-vote lead is too close to call for many news organizations, as provisional and absentee ballots still are being counted.

In North Carolina, Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre holds a lead of fewer than 600 votes over Republican challenger David Rouzer.

In Louisiana, the race between two sitting GOP House members, Reps. Charles W. Boustany Jr. and Jeffrey M. Landry — pitted against each other because of redistricting — will extend for another month, as the two were forced into a runoff election after neither got a majority victory. Mr. Boustany won 44.7 percent of the vote Tuesday, while Mr. Landry got 30 percent.

Meanwhile, the presidential race in Florida was undecided Thursday, though President Obama has won re-election no matter the outcome. Mr. Obama holds a less than 1 percent lead in the Sunshine State.

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