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Allen's defeat seals Senate swing

The Virginia Republican says he saw no point in forcing a recount, and concedes his surprise loss to Democrat Jim Webb.

Published November 10, 2006


ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Republican Sen. George Allen conceded defeat Thursday after a bruising battle against Democrat Jim Webb, sealing the Democrats' control of Congress and the political downfall of a man once considered a White House contender.

Allen said the "owners of government have spoken and I respect their decision."

"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," he said.

Webb, a former Republican and Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, claimed victory early Wednesday after election returns showed him with a narrow lead of about 7,200 votes out of 2.37-million ballots cast.

Allen said he 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 private concession conversation.

The Virginia contest was the last undecided Senate race in the country, and Webb's victory tipped the scales, effectively giving Democrats control of 51 Senate seats and majorities in both the House and Senate for the first time since 1994. Bernard Sanders, the senator-elect from Vermont, is an independent who is expected to vote with the Democrats, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is a Democrat, although he ran as an independent after losing in the Democratic primary.

Earlier Thursday, Republican Sen. Conrad Burns conceded the Montana Senate race to Democrat Jon Tester.

In the Virginia race, Allen had been expected to cruise to a second term this year and make a run for the White House in 2008. The son of a Hall of Fame football coach, Allen served as governor in the 1990s and was popular for abolishing parole and instituting other reforms.

Allen, 54, was comfortably ahead in polls until August, when he mockingly referred to a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent as "Macaca," regarded by some as a racial slur.

Information from the New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 05:50:28]

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