- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2014

Republican Ed Gillespie said Friday he has conceded the U.S. Senate race in Virginia to Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner, ending a shockingly close contest that many had long written off as a likely win for Mr. Warner in his bid for a second term.

As statewide canvassing continued Friday, the margin between the two men was less than 17,000 votes out of more than 2.1 million cast, a gap that would — if it held — entitle Mr. Gillespie to request a recount.

But Mr. Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, told a roomful of supporters Friday at the Waterford event venue in Springfield that he anticipated that pursuing such a course would not change Mr. Warner’s current lead — which had grown slightly since election night — and that he decided to accept the results.

“Obviously it did not move in the direction that we hoped it would, and so I’ve called Mark Warner this morning to congratulate him on his re-election, to thank him for his public service to the commonwealth, and to wish him and his family well,” he said.

Mr. Gillespie said it would be wrong to put Virginians through a recount that in his head and in his heart he knows would not change the outcome.

“If I believed there were any conceivable way we could find a viable path to win through a recount, I’d fight as hard now as I have for the past 10 months of this campaign for our policies and for our principles,” he said.

Public polling showed Mr. Warner with a lead approaching double digits heading into Election Day, and the former Virginia governor had been expected to hold on despite a national mood that dragged down Democrats across the country and handed Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.

But Mr. Gillespie marshaled his limited resources to run a solid, if understated, campaign that focused on the economy, health care and Mr. Warner’s voting record in the Senate largely supportive of President Obama and his policies.

“I’m proud of the campaign we have run,” Mr. Gillespie said. “I loved every minute of it — well, maybe not this one so much.”

In his speech, Mr. Gillespie thanked his family, his staff, volunteers, and his supporters — and gave a shout-out to the different factions within the Republican party in the state that might not have rushed to embrace him.

He said it was great to get to know better tea party supporters who might have initially been skeptical of his candidacy. A longtime party operative, Mr. Gillespie also served as an adviser to President George W. Bush.

“It was clear that their concerns are my concerns, and my concerns are theirs,” he said. “These patriotic Americans are often wrongfully marginalized, if not demonized, from the media, and it’s wrong.”

Mr. Gillespie also said the campaign would not have gotten as far as it did had he not taken his message to voters not traditionally supportive of Republicans, through running multilingual ad campaigns and going to ethnic festivals, black churches, college campuses, Islamic centers, homeless shelters and food banks.

He called his wife, Cathy, his most effective surrogate on the campaign trail and said his children, John, Carrie and Mollie were supportive and understanding throughout.

“It would have been nice to be called senator, but the best thing I have ever been called is ‘dad,’ ” Mr. Gillespie said.

Late Tuesday, as returns showed Mr. Warner with a narrow lead, the Democrat declared victory and reiterated his pledge to work across the aisle in the Senate to try to tackle the major issues of the day, such as the federal budget and the tax code. Mr. Gillespie did not concede then, instead urging supporters to wait for the canvassing process to play out.

The State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet in several weeks to officially certify the results.

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