Florida Rep. Allen West’s reelection prospects grew dimmer Sunday, as a recount of early ballots showed him falling further behind his Democratic opponent.
Democrat Patrick Murphy, a 29-year-old construction company executive, gained 242 votes after the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections completed its re-tabulation, increasing his lead to more than 2,100 votes over West, a tea party hero. Murphy’s lead is just outside the 0.5 percent margin that would trigger an automatic district-wide recount under Florida law.
West won a legal battle Friday when the office’s canvassing board decided to re-tally all early votes that had been cast. The Republican had argued that those votes had been accidentally double-counted on election night and provided a winning margin to Murphy.
But with Murphy’s margin growing after the recount, West’s legal options appeared to narrow. With St. Lucie County having a noon deadline Sunday for certifying its election results, Murphy’s campaign argued that the election was effectively over. Florida has a Tuesday deadline for certifying the results from all three counties that make up the 18th Congressional District.
“By state law, he is effectively the winner,” Eric Johnson, a senior Murphy advisor, said in an interview.