Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie said Friday that he is conceding the Senate race to Democratic incumbent Mark Warner.
“We surprised a lot of experts Tuesday night, but you weren’t surprised at all,” an upbeat Gillespie told his supporters during a concession speech in Springfield.
The former Republican National Committee chairman shocked the political world on Tuesday night when early election returns showed him trailing Warner just 49.1 percent to 48.5 percent.
Gillespie said on Tuesday he wouldn’t concede until all the votes were counted, but on Friday, he acknowledged “the numbers just aren’t there.”
His surprising performance already has Virginia Republicans speculating that he will run for governor in 2017.
No poll showed Gillespie ahead of Warner ahead of Election Day. But The Daily Caller reported last weekend that Gillespie was down just four points on Warner and was within striking distance.
In a recent interview with TheDC, Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, predicted he would continue to gain on Warner as people in Virginia got to know him.
“We’ve closed a big gap,” Gillespie said. “You know, when I got in, we were down 29 points to Mark Warner.”
On the campaign trail, Gillespie often pointed out that Warner has voted with President Barack Obama 97 percent of the time.
Gillespie ran an ad during Monday night football taking the side of the Redskins, the football team under attack by liberal politicians. “I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill,” Gillespie said in the ad. “Let’s focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay, and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team.”
Warner released a statement after Gillespie’s speech on Friday afternoon.
“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,” he said. “I am sure Ed Gillespie will continue to contribute to the debate in Virginia and the nation.”
Republicans have flipped seven Democratic Senate seats, though that number could increase. Votes are still being counted in Alaska, where the Republican nominee is leading. And in Louisiana, a run-off will be held next month.