Fighting To Undo Loss To Patrick Murphy, Allen West Plays All The Angles

Nov 13, 2012

One of South Florida's leading constitutional scholars says U. S. Rep. Allen West is likely to lose his fight to recount the votes in District 18 and regain the seat he appears to have lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy.

Never Say Concede: Allen West, above, refuses to acknowledge losing to Murphy, below, who's already in Washington for rookie Congressman orientation.
Credit wikimedia

But Nova Southeastern University law professor Robert Jarvis told the TCPalm newspapers West could keep the issue confused for months even if none of his arguments hold water.

West's big logic problem, says Jarvis, is that whatever flaws there may have been in the vote-counting, they affected Murphy equally. That means there was no bias against West alone, and that's what a court would be looking for -- not a perfect election, but a reasonably well-run election.

But even if West totally strikes out in court, reports TCPalm's Jupiter Courier, he still has options:

The congressman can file a challenge with the House when Murphy takes his seat in January, saying he was the winner. That's because Article I of the Constitution give the House or Senate authority to decide a contested election.

"There have been over a hundred of these challenges in the last century, but they really never succeed," Jarvis said.

Murphy, meanwhile has moved on as the presumptive new District 18 congressman. He appeared Monday on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and definitively called himself the victor. He ships off to Washington for a House freshman orientation Tuesday until Friday.

The other thing to keep in kind, says law professor Bob Jarvis, is that West has little to lose by persisting with his challenge. It keeps him in the spotlight and furthers what Jarvis believes may be West's fall-back goal: Getting hired as a commentator or even a show host on Fox News.  

"And I'm sure he'll never miss an opportunity to remind listeners, 'the liberals, the judges, the election officials took this away from me.' It's a really a no-lose situation for West."