In American politics, every competitive election inevitably has a winner and a loser. Typically, after Election Day, everything goes smoothly and the loser congratulates the winner. However, that doesn’t always happen.
Tuesday’s primary elections in Mississippi and New York provided two examples of this. The high-profile challengers to Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-New York) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) both initially refused to concede despite the vote count stacked against them.
To celebrate their “Never Say Die” spirit, we decided to gather this list of the least gracious non-concession concession speeches in modern American politics.
Richard Nixon, 1962
Richard Nixon, who was then a former Republican presidential nominee, looked like a good bet to win California’s 1962 gubernatorial election as the state had a long tradition of GOP leadership at the time. However, Nixon was defeated by Democrat Pat Brown.
Nixon then proceeded to give his infamous “last press conference” where he lashed out at the media and his opponent again and again.
“You’ve had an opportunity to attack me and I think I’ve given as good as I’ve taken,” Nixon said to a room full of reporters, adding, “As I leave you, I want you to know — just think how much you’re going to be missing. You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”
Marilyn Musgrave, 2008
Republican Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave virtually disappeared after losing her re-election bid in Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District in 2008. She reportedly refused to concede to her opponent, talk to the media, or even address her own supporters and staff — despite the fact she was still a sitting official until the end of that year. Musgrave eventually resurfaced about a month later in a Georgia election when she recorded a robocall blasting liberals for their “vicious attacks and lies” against her.
She is currently working with the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. Business Insider called the group Thursday to see if Musgrave had ever conceded. She did not respond.
Here is MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in 2009 discussing Musgrave’s non-concession:
Ralph Nader, 2008
After losing the presidential election in 2008, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader appeared on Fox News where he repeatedly used the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe Barack Obama’s prospects as the first African-American president of the United States.
Allen West, 2012
Conservative firebrand Allen West spent two weeks contesting the vote total in his race in Florida’s 18th Congressional District before issuing a sour statement admitting his defeat.
“While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election,” West said, adding there were “certainly still inaccuracies in the results.”
Soon after he released his statement, West appeared on Fox & Friends.” Though he still complained of “irregularities,” West was somewhat more gracious on television.
Joe Miller, 2010
Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski won a historic write-in campaign after losing to Joe Miller in the GOP primary. Like West, Miller attempted to contest the results.
Here’s Miller on CNN, weeks after Election Day, arguing why “there’s certainly a possibility” of him winning after the Republican establishment and Alaska’s newspapers called on him to exit with class:
And here are this week’s non-concessions:
State Senator Chris McDaniel complained of “literally dozens” of voting irregularities as he refused to concede to Cochran in Tuesday’s Mississippi Senate primary runoff. McDaniel also attacked Cochran for encouraging Democrats to vote for him in the contest, which was open to voters of any party affiliation who did not vote in the Democratic primary.
“There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel complained.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat similarly cited “voting irregularities” as he refused to concede to Rangel Tuesday. He reiterated his remarks in both English and Spanish for added emphasis.
“El voto de cada votante se debe contado,” Espaillat said. “Every vote must be counted.”
Espaillat finally sent out a formal concession statement Thursday.
Watch a video of his election night speech below.
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