Republican Ed Gillespie conceded the Virginia Senate race to his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, on Friday afternoon, NBC News confirmed.
Warner garnered 49.2% of the vote, and Gillespie 48.4%, according to the NBC News election unit. The race was closer than many political observers expected. Warner had a commanding lead in a CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll released shortly before Election Day. Republicans ultimately gained control of the Senate, with the GOP picking up at least seven seats.
Rules in the Old Dominion State allow the losing candidate to request a recount if the difference in votes is less than 1%. But Gillespie said he went from trailing by 9,000 votes on Tuesday night to falling behind by 16,000 votes on Friday.
“It would be wrong to put my fellow Virginians through a recount when I know in my head and in my heart that a change is not possible,” Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said following his decision, according to NBC’s Oliver Cox. Gillespie said the only part of the campaign he didn’t love was the loss. There has been some speculation that Gillespie would make a run for the governor’s mansion in Virginia in 2017, but the Republican told Politico he has no plans to do so.
“Earlier today, Ed Gillespie called to inform me that he would be conceding the election, and I commended him on a hard-fought campaign and wish him and his family well,” Warner said in a statement Friday. “I am sure Ed Gillespie will continue to contribute to the debate in Virginia and the nation.”