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Allen West exits stage right

Associated Press

It was a bad sign when Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) forced a recount in his district, and over the weekend, ended up falling further behind. This morning, left with no credible options, the right-wing lawmaker finally gave up.

Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West is announcing today that he won't challenge Democrat Patrick Murphy's narrow victory in their nationally watched battle for the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 seat.

"While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election," West says in a statement released this morning.

Murphy has led by less than 1 percent since election night. Final results Sunday from Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties gave the Democrat a lead over West of 1,904 votes or 0.58 percent.

Allen's concession marks the end, at least for now, of one of the strangest political careers in recent memory.

West first gained notoriety during his military service in Iraq, when he was forced to retire from the Army for engaging in abusive interrogation techniques. As a congressional candidate,he incorporated violent rhetoric into his campaign speeches, and made demonstrably ridiculous claims about his own background. Shortly before the 2010 midterms, we learned about West's ties to a violent gang of criminals, which the Justice Department believed was involved in drug running, arson, prostitution, robbery, and murder.

Despite all of this, West won anyway -- and that's when the Republican got really weird.

Though West was only in office for one two-year term, it's challenging to note all of his unhinged antics -- Tim Murphy pulled together a greatest-hits list of sorts yesterday -- but I'd remiss if I neglected to note some of my favorites.

In West's mind, if you disagree with him, you're (a) a communist; (b) a supporter of slavery; or (c) quite possibly a communistic supporter of slavery. He doesn't believe Muslims should be allowed to serve in Congress; he saw the AOL-Huffington merger as a secret plot to undermine conservatives; and he called for the U.S. government to censor news organizations.

West also once famously told Democratic leaders, "[G]et the hell out of the United States of America."

We don't yet know what West will do next -- he may very well run again in two years, and start the cycle of nonsense all over again -- but for now, he's poised to leave the congressional stage after blazing quite a trail.