(CNSNews.com) - Citing a "deep respect for the people of Virginia" and a desire to pursue a "purpose driven life," Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) Thursday conceded defeat to challenger Jim Webb, effectively handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.
While acknowledging he had the legal right to call for a recount in light of the tight outcome of the Senate contest, Allen told supporters in Alexandria, Va., he preferred to avoid legal entanglements.
Allen would instead work in cooperation with Webb - whom he said had beaten him by a 49.55 percent to 49.25 percent margin - for a smooth transition in January.
Allen's defeat means the new Senate will be split 49-49, but independents Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont plan to caucus with the Democrats. The Republicans also lost control of the House of Representatives in Tuesday's election.
"I'm aware this contest [is] so close I have the legal right to ask for a recount at the taxpayers' expense," Allen said. "I also recognize a recount could drag on until Christmas.
"It is with deep respect for people of Virginia and [with a desire] to bind factions together for a positive purpose that I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation, which would in my judgment not alter the results."
Allen left the door open to future involvement in public affairs, urging his "philosophical allies" to join him in pushing initiatives that lower taxes and create opportunities for individuals, families and entrepreneurs.
Supporters in attendance such as C. Stewart Verdery, Jr., president of the Monument Policy Group in Washington D.C., said Allen could run again for statewide office.
"He's young enough, and he has enough experience to serve as a wise statesman," Stewart said. "He could also serve in the executive branch."
There appeared to be agreement among supporters, friends and family members that Allen made the right decision in refraining from a recount.
"I thought he gave an excellent speech," said Megan Kintner, an Arizona resident who worked as an intern and volunteer on behalf of Allen. "He did the right thing by not asking for a recount."
Allen touched on his accomplishments as senator and governor, citing welfare reform, lower crime rates and lower taxes, including the role he played in keeping the Internet free from taxation.
John Warner (R-Va.), the state's senior senator, spoke about the partnership he had with the outgoing senator. Warner recounted Allen's rise from the state's general assembly to the governor's mansion and finally to the Senate.
"Side by side, day in and day out, we tried to do our very best on behalf of the United States and the people of the commonwealth," Warner said. "Our relationship was based on solid foundation of mutual respect and mutual trust."
Allen said his religious convictions played a part in his decision to look ahead to future opportunities instead of disputing the election results.
"I'm one who believes that we should lead a life with honorable purposes - in a purpose driven life," he said. "I see no good purpose being served by continuously and needlessly spending money and causing more personal animosity."
Verdery told Cybercast News Service that Allen had the misfortune of running for re-election in a year that did not favor Republicans, against a candidate who was difficult to pin down on issues.
"It was a good year to be a challenger without a record," Verdery said.
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