Allen West now trails Patrick Murphy with more than 97 percent of precincts reporting


Treasure Coast residents might not know who their new District 18 congressman will be until Wednesday or Thursday, but the numbers are leaning toward Democrat Patrick Murphy.
With more than 97 percent of precincts reporting Murphy is leading U.S. Rep. Allen West. Murphy has 155,365 votes to West's 154,392. Percentage-wise that's 50.16 percent to 49.84 percent.
On WPTV after midnight, Murphy reported that he had taken the lead from the Double Tree Palm Beach Gardens hotel.
"Things are looking very good for us," Murphy said. "We don't know how many votes are still out there, but they are all going to get counted. And the more that come from St. Lucie, the better it looks for us."
State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, gave the West crowd a final update at 11:45 p.m. West never left a separate room himself at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina in Stuart, where he watched the results with his family. Nor did his campaign did not comment on the race.
"There are about 30,000 votes, absentee ballots in Palm Beach County, not all in this congressional district, but in the entire county," Negron said. "They're the ones that have to be manually done because of some errors. So we will not have those final numbers in tonight."
"In addition, there are several precincts in St. Lucie County that are delayed and they're still counting. We will not have those numbers until tomorrow. …in all likelihood, we will not have final results in this race until at least tomorrow, or perhaps even Thursday."
If the vote is within .5 percent it triggers an automatic recount.
In a recount, all ballots are submitted again into the tabulating machines to recount the votes. If the recount yields a margin of one-quarter of one percent, the local canvassing boards must then perform another manual recount to examine so-called "undervotes" and "overvotes" -- ballots that recorded no vote for president, or multiple votes for president.
Murphy smiled wide as he described walking around the district firing up his base.
"I can't tell you how many Democrats, Republicans and Independents came up to me and said, 'Patrick, look, we're tired of the divisiveness. We're tired of the extremism of people like Allen West, calling people names. Calling people communists and Nazis, we want someone to bring this country together.' So our message is working."
There are still five precincts that have not been reported in St. Lucie County, which is more Democratic. But it varies neighborhood by neighborhood. Negron said one of the precincts in Tradition, which leans Republican.
"I am very confident that when all the votes are counted, Congressman West will be the next congressman for the Treasure Coast," Negron said.
If the vote is within .5 percent it triggers an automatic recount.
In a recount, all ballots are submitted again into the tabulating machines to recount the votes. If the recount yields a margin of one-quarter of one percent, the local canvassing boards must then perform another manual recount to examine so-called "undervotes" and "overvotes" -- ballots that recorded no vote for president, or multiple votes for president.
State Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart and the incoming Martin County Sheriff, helped Negron brief the crowd a few times. No one from West's campaign spoke.
"This thing is really close, and you know what, I really trust the Lord. I've been in elected office for six years," Snyder said. "Call me crazy, but I trust the American public. I'm a little worried about the rest of them out there, but I'm trusting that the right thing will be done, and that shortly I'm going to get up here and ask Congressman West to come up. So let's stay strong."
Dressed in a dark suit and blue tie decorated with the state of Florida, Murphy said he felt great about election day, which for him began at 5:30 a.m.
"I'm excited, it's been a lot of work and we've been campaigning for about 22 months. It all comes down to today," he said. "Now it's up to the voters at this point."
West's supporters at the Marriott ballroom showed up for an election party expected where 500 attendees shuffled in and out. The crowd turned somber quickly when Fox News declared President Obama the winner, and stayed tense as sparse updates came on the West race.
After stopping at various polling spots throughout the day, the Palm Beach Gardens Republican doesn't plan to appear publicly until his race's results are final, said campaign spokeswoman Michele Hickford.
Murphy is hoping to topple West, one of the tea party's top icons, in what's become a contentious bid to represent U.S. House District 18.
BusinessWeek dubbed the West-Murphy tussle the ugliest political race in America. The Center for Responsive Politics also tallied up District 18 as the priciest House contest in the country, carrying an almost $24 million price tag that includes super
PAC spending.
West arrived on the Treasure Coast political scene because it's a redistricting year, and the new lines weren't in his favor. U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, left the Treasure Coast to seek a more agricultural seat, while West headed north to avoid a District 22 race highly favoring Democrats. Republicans have a two-point registration edge in District 18 over Democrats.
Murphy had already planned to face West in District 22, so he followed West to District 18.
Armed with millions of dollars, both candidates stomped their primary competition and spent big leading to Election Day.
West's national tea party support base funneled $17 million into his campaign, more than half coming from out-of-state donors. He spent $13.8 million, much of it on mailers and TV ads.
Murphy largely tailored himself as the anti-West, which helped him scrape together $3.6 million — one of the top hauls by Democrats. He shelled out $3.4 million, less than one-fourth of what West spent.
The candidates largely toed party lines in campaign ads, forums and their one debate. They repeating go-to arguments used by candidates nationwide about Medicare, taxes and spending, energy, women's issues and more.
The candidates' personal attacks peaked when West ran a TV ad featuring Murphy's mugshot from 2003, when the 19-year-old was arrested for disorderly intoxication and using a fake ID outside a South Beach club. Charges were dropped.
Murphy countered with an ad about West's military service in Iraq, where he fired a gun near a detainee's head in 2003. West faced a $5,000 fine but retired with full benefits.
Murphy said he began campaigning at 6:30 a.m.
"We were out there in front of people early," he said.
Murphy said he'll be watching election results with supporters at his watch party, and will duck into a private room reserved for himself and his core campaign staff.
"We'll be analyzing the numbers and see how we're doing," he added.
He said voting was brisk this morning across the district, as he visited, and slowed down somewhat as the day progressed.
"The morning was packed," he said. "But there were no lines this afternoon. I just got a call from the Obama team saying there was what they thought was a two or three hour long line in Port St. Lucie and they wanted me to run up there and encourage voters to stay in line.
"I didn't see it, but that's what I was just told. I did not see that up there from where I was."
Lanny Ray Lee, 74, a retired physicist from Port St. Lucie, said he drove to the Double Tree Palm Beach Gardens hotel to support Murphy in person.
"He's a very impressive young man, and he would be a good representative," Lee said. "He just exudes management."
Lee said he's feeling more positive about Murphy winning than he did a couple of weeks ago.
"It's just a visceral feeling," he said.
Lee said it was important to be here in person with Murphy to watch the results come in.
"I just felt like I had to be here," he said. "I'm not superstitious but I think the more support he has, somehow the synergy is in the works."
Joel Bernstein, 71, a Port St. Lucie Murphy supporter who teaches physics at Indian River State College.
He said Murphy was a better choice than West.
"There's no comparison," he said. "I met him way in the beginning of the campaign and I could see. I'm old and I've been a Democrat, working for Democrats since I was 8-years-old in 1948."
Bernstein said he campaigned for Murphy all day Tuesday.
"I was at Murphy headquarters in Port St. Lucie and I was walking for Barack Obama so I said I wasn't going to go home and change. I'm not a voyeur, I'm a participant and I like to participate in things."
He projected Murphy will win, even though West was showing a narrow lead.
"Eventually I'd like to see him as Speaker of the House." he said.
Bob Levine, 60, of Port St. Lucie, a retired postal worker who owns an airport shuttle service, said he's volunteered for the Murphy campaign and it was important to watch the results with the other volunteers.
"We volunteered to help Patrick Murphy take down Allen West," he said. "Because West is on all the wrong sides on the major issues: women and social programs and he represents the rich, and big corporate America.
He said he has a disabled son whose caregivers suffered from funding cuts due to cuts pushed through by state GOP lawmakers. He said he wants to see more Democrats elected to try and reverse cuts to vital social services.
Levine said he's hopeful Murphy will win, but acknowledged the national attention West has garnered, which has resulted in a huge war chest to keep his congressional seat.
"He's got that going for him," he noted.
He said he hoped Murphy, if elected, will uphold Democratic principles, and "care about the middle class."
Warren Grossman,
85, are Republican from Stuart, said he's supported Murphy from the start.
"I'm a Republican, born and bread; first campaign was for Herbert Hoover, when I handed out buttons, and I'm very much for Patrick," Grossman said. "He's my idea of what a representative should be. And I distinctly don't like Allen West. He represents everything I find personally reprehensible.
"I think he dishonored himself in the military and he was very lucky to get out without a court marshal, and I find his ads over the top.
"I've never seen an ad he had on television that said what he did that was positive," he added. "It just was Patrick's shortcomings, which were fabricated."
Grossman said Murphy has qualities that will serve him well, if elected.
"He's young, he's honest, he's positive, he's educated, and the most important to me," he said, "I come from an era when the two parties compromised. That's what politics is to me, the art of compromise. Patrick, with his background, will be a compromiser. West is just over the hill. Over the hill in a lot of ways; I feel strongly about it."
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