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Unofficial loss for Rep. West on day after mixed results for Tea Party

Deeming "far from over" a race which, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, shows him trailing his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by 2,500 votes, Tea Party prodigy Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., is demanding a recount.

Tim Edson, West's campaign manager, issued a statement Wednesday morning calling for a "full hand recount of the ballots" in St. Lucie County, Fla.: "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," Edson continued, "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."

Murphy declared victory shortly after 1 a.m. local time Wednesday, but as of 6 p.m., the AP has yet to call the race. Even if West loses, though, it's hard to say Tuesday night's election was a total loss for the limited spending, hands-off government Tea Party movement, which helped usher onto Capitol Hill in 2010 a wave of conservative fiscal hawks.

Yes, Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee who shamelessly and aggressively sought the Tea Party's stamp of approval during the primary, lost to President Obama, whose stimulus plans and policies inspired the movement in the first place. On top of that, Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., was ousted, and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who found himself on defense over controversial rape comments in recent weeks, fell short.

Still, a new Tea Partier - Ted Cruz of Texas - joins the Senate and some of the movement's original trailblazers who helped lead a disciplined standoff against raising the debt ceiling, among other resolutions, will return to Congress next year, putting them in position to help strike - or barricade - a long-term deal for the looming fiscal cliff.

Among them: Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, who defeated former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, and - most telling of all - Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., perhaps the Tea Party's loudest voice on the Hill.

Bachmann managed to hang onto her seat against Democratic challenger Jim Graves, albeit after a much tighter race than should have been. She recently admitted her seat's endangerment had much to do with her decision to enter the GOP presidential primary, which the firebrand congresswoman briefly led before falling prey to heightened scrutiny for her frequent gaffes and far-right positions.

After Bachmann was declared the winner late Wednesday morning, by just more than one percentage point, she issued a statement saying she was "humbled" that Minnesota's sixth district "placed their trust in me for another term."

"I pledge to continue to work everyday to create jobs and do everything I can to make life more affordable for Minnesota's families," she continued. "Our children and grandchildren deserve a future filled with opportunity in a country that is safe and secure, and that's what I'm fighting for in Washington."

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