Fimian concedes to Connolly in Virginia's 11th Congressional District
Updated: November 9, 2010 - 01:04 pm
Republican Keith Fimian has opted not to pursue a recount in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District, putting an end to one of the nation’s closest elections.
Fimian announced Tuesday morning that he is conceding to incumbent Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, who had received 49.2 percent of the vote to Fimian’s 48.8 percent -- a lead of a mere 981 votes. Based on his lead, Connolly had declared victory on election night.
"After much discussion with friends and supporters, I have decided not to pursue a recount and not to further investigate possible discrepancies in the election results," Fimian said in a statement. "Therefore I congratulate Congressman Connolly on his victory and send him good wishes as he moves forward to do the people’s business. For me, today is the end of this campaign."
Connolly is scheduled to hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. to discuss his victory.
Fimian's decision to end the race was first reported last night by the Washington Post.
Fimian’s concession means Democrats will hold on to this quintessential suburban district, which includes Fairfax, Fairfax County and part of Prince William County. After losing three congressional seats in the southern portion of the state, commonwealth Democrats will be relieved to retain this one.
Since Connolly’s margin of victory was so slim, Fimian could have requested a taxpayer-funded recount under state law. But the way Virginia conducts recounts makes dramatic changes in vote totals unlikely, and any recount looked to be quixotic at best, which Fimian acknowledged in his statement.
"Over the past several days I have been reviewing the election returns closely," he said. "A recount only seeks to arrive at an accurate tally of all votes cast. In our race, we have not seen any obvious errors in the results. And while we believe that there are a small number of ballots containing votes that have not yet been counted, we are confident based on the canvass that it is not enough to change the outcome of this contest."
Fimian did allude to earlier problems mentioned by the Fairfax Republican committee about voting problems, but said there was no guarantee that such an expensive, drawn-out process could change the election's outcome.
The 11th District race was one of the nation’s tightest, with national prognosticators consistently marking it as a toss-up. As the nation’s wealthiest congressional district, Fimian’s relentless hammering of Connolly on unemployment, the national debt and other economic issues may not have meant as much here as they would elsewhere.
Connolly used the same strategy he did to beat Fimian by a much larger margin in 2008 -- focus on the small businessman’s right-wing positions on social issues. Fiman’s staunch anti-abortion rights position and an insensitive remark about gun rights and the Virginia Tech tragedy helped Connolly portray him as out of step with the centrist district, which had been represented by moderate Republican Tom Davis before Connolly, a long-time member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, took the seat in 2008.
Having already made two failed runs against Connolly, it’s difficult to anticipate the Republican running for a third time. Fimian wasn’t the choice of the local GOP establishment, but used the enthusiasm of Tea Party groups to upset Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity in the primary.
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