In a district that leans Republican by 2 percentage points, Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy should thank St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties' voters for helping him knock off U.S. Rep. Allen West.
Only consistently red Martin County performed up to its billing for West.
By 6 a.m., with 100 percent of precincts reporting according to Politico.com, a winner still had not been officially declared. Murphy garnered 160,328 votes to West's 157,872. That's a difference of 2,456. Percentage-wise, that's 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent.
But West, who stormed into Congress on the 2010 Tea Party wave, hasn't conceded the race yet.
West's campaign manager Tim Edson released the following statement regarding the results:
"This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. This race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting of all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district.
Late last night Congressman West maintained a district-wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections "recounted" thousands of early ballots. Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes. In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed, in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results. The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor's office last night could only be described as complete chaos. Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly will pursue all legal means necessary."
If a race is decided by 0.5 points or fewer, it automatically triggers a recount. But the final spread fell just outside that margin.
"I am humbled by the outpouring of support from the voters of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches," Murphy said in a news release. "I pledge to be a representative who will work across the aisle, listen to all points of views, and work to end the divisiveness in Congress. Our country faces many challenges, and by working together we will continue to move our country forward."
In one of Congress's tightest races — and biggest upsets — St. Lucie County picked Murphy over West by an 11-percent margin, matching Democrats' 43-to-32-percent registration edge in the county.
Palm Beach split its votes for West almost 50-50, even though Republicans outnumbered Democrats 37- to 35-percent over Democrats there.
Only Martin proved a stronghold for West, R-Palm Beach Gardens. The ousted congressman drummed up a 14-point win over Murphy in Martin, where registered Republicans trounce Democrats by 13 points and 78 percent of voters cast ballots this time around.
It was not until early Wednesday morning that NBC and Democrat Patrick Murphy declared that the Jupiter accountant had defeated West in one of the most-watched congressional races in the country.
"I think we won because the voters spoke, they are tired of the extremism and the divisiveness, and they want someone willing to put the country first," Murphy said. "That's what we represent, that's what this campaign is all about and that's who I am."
West's party shut down shortly after midnight, before additional results came in giving Murphy the lead.
West never left a separate room at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina in Stuart, where he watched the results with his family. The 500 supporters who funneled in and out didn't get a glimpse of the congressman. Nor has his campaign commented on the race.
State Sen. Joe Negron and state Rep. William Snyder, both Stuart Republicans, played surrogate for West all night. Each gave sparse updates on the results, explaining why West hadn't appeared at the party and then assuring he'd be down shortly.
The West group called it quits just before midnight on their get-together, which started at 7 p.m. The latest update Negron gave had West up by a slim margin, with a few St. Lucie precincts and Palm Beach absentee ballots uncounted.
At his Double Tree Palm Beach Gardens party, Murphy took the stage grinning at about 12:15 a.m., claiming a slight lead. At 1:30 a.m., he declared himself the winner, per MSNBC's call.
"The entire political landscape posed challenges for Republicans, especially ones running statewide," Negron
said at about midnight, when West still led slightly. "You look at Connie Mack (in the U.S. Senate race), state Senate races and congressional races."
NewsChannel 5's Jamel Lanee contributed to this report