Brian Schoeneman over at Common Sense reports that Keith Fimian, the GOP candidate in the VA-11 congressional race, will concede the election to incumbent Gerry Connolly sometime today. I will be looking throughout the day at Fimian’s web site and social media presence to catch any official word of this. Brian is pretty well connected and very knowledgeable of the local political scene so I’m inclined to believe it when he says this is coming.
However, the SBE website is currently showing Connolly with 111,720 votes (49.22%) to Fimian’s 110,739 (48.79%). For those interested in the math, that’s a difference of 981 votes out of 222,459 votes cast for the 2 candidates. (I’m leaving the indies and write-ins out of this.) Do the math on that and you have a difference of .4%. That’s 4 tenths of 1 percentage point. That’s well within the range for a state-sponsored recount of the votes. Lest anyone think that this is an insurmountable lead, look to the example of New York’s 1st District in Suffolk County. An initial reporting from the elections board up there showed the Democrat incumbent 3,400 votes ahead. When a discrepancy was spotted a re-canvass of the system was executed. The result? The GOP candidate is now showing 300-400 votes ahead, a shift of nearly 4,000 votes. The Dem is demanding a recount – by hand – of all the votes and, frankly, I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
The point is, a 981 vote difference when we’re talking this many votes is well within the range of error. The law permits a recount in this situation and, if for no other reason than to confirm that the system is working as expected, a recount should be done. It’s too close and we need to be sure.
Now, all of that said, the decision is ultimately up to Keith Fimian. Making the decision to forgo a recount would be an acceptance of the people’s will as expressed at the polls without argument and that can’t be viewed negatively, in general. It’s also been a rough campaign, with Fimian being the target of all manner of nasty commentary that was largely baseless. Yes, that’s politics, but it’s also wearing on a candidate and his family. If Fimian decides he doesn’t want to prolong that situation for himself and his family, I certainly couldn’t fault him.
In the end, I’m not a resident of the 11th so this really isn’t my fight, at least no more than any Republican campaign anywhere is. But if a candidate from my party is going to concede, I’d like to be sure that concession has been earned by the winner. Unless there are mitigating circumstances that haven’t been reported to date, I would urge Mr. Fimian to stick this one out until a recount confirms what the system is telling us thus far. He has come so close and clearly had so many people behind him that it is owed to the citizens of the 11th District to be sure that the decision being reported is the one they actually made. Just my thoughts…