Update 2:03 p.m. | Republican Ed Gillespie conceded the Virginia Senate race Friday, declining to contest Democratic Sen. Mark Warner's tight lead.
By Friday, Warner led by just 17,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. But with canvassing ongoing since Wednesday, media outlets had yet to call the race.
"If I believed there were any conceivable way we could find a viable path to win through a recount, I would fight," Gillespie told supporters. But, he said, "It would be wrong to put my fellow Virginians through a recount when, in my head and in my heart, I know that a change of outcome is not possible."
Gillespie said that after "careful analysis" of the results, "I've concluded that the numbers just aren't there." That matched what Warner attorney Marc Elias told reporters on Wednesday, certain the incumbent would emerge victorious.
At a briefing with reporters Thursday, operatives from the National Republican Senatorial Committee expressed frustration that they had not had the resources to help push Gillespie over the edge.
"I’d always hoped that a super PAC would go in there and help out a little bit, and we just never got there," NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins told reporters.
Warner won his second term in far different fashion than his first. After defeating former Gov. Jim Gilmore by more than 30 points, the popular former governor sneaked by in 2014 in a surprisingly close contest.
"Representing Virginia has been the honor of my life, and I am gratified that the people of the Commonwealth have rehired me for a new term," Warner said in a statement following Gillespie's announcement.
While he lost this one, Gillespie is now well-positioned to run for governor in 2017.
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