Virginia Sen. Allen Concedes Defeat

The Associated Press
Friday, November 10, 2006; 6:27 AM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- As Sen. George Allen entered the campaign season, he anticipated smooth sailing toward an all-but-certain re-election that would bolster his presidential aspirations.

But on Thursday, suggesting that "the prevailing winds were against us," he conceded defeat to Democrat Jim Webb, ending not only his once-promising 2008 prospects but also GOP control of the U.S. Senate.

His rapid fall from political grace, aided by verbal gaffes and a nationwide Republican backlash, was complete.

Polite after a campaign that had been anything but, Allen said he would not demand a recount in a race Webb won by fewer than 9,000 votes out of 2.37 million ballots cast.

Allen said "the owners of government have spoken and I respect their decision," though a day earlier his campaign said it likely would wait for the State Board of Elections to complete its canvass before conceding.

"The Bible teaches us there is a time and place for everything, and today I called and congratulated Jim Webb and his team for their victory," Allen said.

The conservative Republican senator lost to a fellow Reagan acolyte who served as the former president's Navy secretary before becoming disenchanted with the GOP.

At a news conference and rally, Webb's supporters roared when he took his Marine son's battered combat boots from a bag and held them high above his head. Webb, whose son is fighting in Iraq, had worn the boots throughout what he called "an unnecessarily brutal campaign."

Allen chose not to demand a recount when initial canvassing of the results failed to significantly alter Webb's lead.

"I see no good purpose being served by continuously and needlessly expending money and causing any more personal animosity," he said. "Rather than bitterness, I want to focus on how best Virginians can be effectively served by their new junior senator."

Webb said Allen "was very gracious" in their conversation. He alluded to the nasty tone of the campaign, saying he told Allen that "it's vital to stop the politics of divisiveness, character assassination, distraction."

The Virginia contest was the last undecided Senate race in the country, and Webb's victory tipped the scales, giving the Democrats control of 51 Senate seats and majorities in both the House and Senate for the first time since 1994.

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© 2006 The Associated Press