McLEAN, Va. — Republican Ed Gillespie is facing a choice whether to concede the Virginia Senate race or fight on after Democrat Mark Warner claimed a narrow second-term victory.
Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, has not spoken publicly since Tuesday night, when he said he wanted the vote-counting process to play out.
But his campaign announced a news conference for Friday afternoon.
The latest numbers from the State Board of Elections show Warner leading by more than 16,000 votes, or nearly a percentage point, out of more than 2 million ballots cast.
Warner has 49 percent of the vote, Gillespie has 48 percent and Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 2 percent.
If the numbers hold, Gillespie would be entitled to ask for a recount under state law, but would have to pay for it himself.
Warner, a former governor who is one of Virginia’s most popular politicians, had been expected to win the race handily. Despite being outspent, Gillespie rode a national Republican wave that made the contest far closer than predicted.
On Thursday, Warner told reporters he was confident that his lead would hold up. He said it would be unprecedented in Virginia for such a lead to evaporate in either the canvass, as the formal counting process is called, or a recount.
Warner said he was focusing now on his next term, which would begin in January, and planned to promote a centrist agenda that could attract bipartisan support.
He said he wants “to show that we can get the Senate to actually work.”