Ed Gillespie Concedes Virginia Senate Race After Spooking Democrats on Election Night

The Republican chose against calling for a recount in a tight contest with Democrat Mark Warner.

Ed Gillespie has conceded in Virginia's Senate race, handing Sen. Mark Warner a second term after a contest that was much closer than expected.

Gillespie announced his decision at a press conference Friday, saying he had called Warner to congratulate him. His move means Democrats will have at least 46 seats in the next Senate—including the two independents who caucus with the party—and Republicans will have at least 52. Alaska's race is still unresolved, though Republican Dan Sullivan leads Democratic incumbent Mark Begich, and Louisiana's contest is headed to a runoff.

Though Warner led in every public poll of the race, he had a very narrow edge on election night, and as of Friday his lead over Gillespie stood at close to 17,000 votes. While that margin was less than 1 percent, entitling Gillespie to ask for a recount, Gillespie said Friday he did not see a path to victory.

"It would be wrong to put our fellow Virginians through a recount, when in my head and in my heart I know a change in outcome is not possible," Gillespie said.

His better-than-expected performance puts Gillespie on a short list of Virginia Republicans who could run for future statewide office, perhaps for governor in 2017 or against Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018.