Republican concedes US Senate race
SPRINGFIELD, Virginia (AP) — The Republican candidate for the Senate in Virginia conceded defeat Friday, ending a longshot bid that almost turned into a shocking upset.
The race was one of three still undecided after Tuesday’s vote in which Republicans seized control of the Senate and expanded their majority in the House of Representatives in what was widely seen as a backlash against President Barack Obama.
Virginia was a sign of the magnitude of the Republican wave. Incumbent Mark Warner, a popular centrist, was considered a sure-thing for re-election. But his Republican rival, Ed Gillespie, came within a percentage point of winning.
Gillespie conceded to Warner, saying he would not seek a recount even though he was entitled to one. “The votes just aren’t there,” Gillespie told his supporters, adding that he called Warner earlier in the day to congratulate him.
Warner’s victory gives Democrats 46 seats to Republicans’ 52, with two races undecided. Votes are still being tallied in Alaska and Louisiana is headed to a Dec. 6 runoff.
The latest numbers in Virginia from the State Board of Elections show Warner leading by more than 16,000 votes, or nearly a percentage point, out of more than 2 million ballots cast.
Warner has 49 percent of the vote, Gillespie has 48 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 2 percent.
Warner, a former governor who is one of Virginia’s most popular politicians, had been expected to handily win a second term. But Gillespie, rode a wave of support for Republican candidates nationwide, and almost knocked Warner out of the Senate despite being outspent heavily.
On Thursday, Warner told reporters he was confident that his lead would hold up. He said it would be unprecedented in Virginia for such a lead to evaporate in either the canvass, as the formal counting process is called, or a recount.
Warner said he was focusing now on his next term, which would begin in January, and planned to promote a centrist agenda that could attract bipartisan support.
He said he wants “to show that we can get the Senate to actually work.”
Gillespie’s concession did not change the balance of the Senate, which saw Republicans win control Tuesday for the first time in eight years.
The Alaska race between Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Republican challenger Dan Sullivan remains uncalled, and in Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy are competing in a Dec. 6 runoff.