Florida Rep. Allen West in close re-election bid

The re-election of Florida Rep. Allen West, a darling of the conservative Tea Party movement, was hanging by a thread early Wednesday morning. He trails his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, by 2,000 votes.

U.S. Representative Allen West - the firebrand Republican lawmaker known for his blistering attacks on Obama and other Democrats - is locked in a tight re-election battle in one of the country's most closely watched congressional races.

Early Wednesday morning, West, 51, was trailing his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, by 2,000 votes out of the 318,000 ballots cast.

West, a darling of the conservative Tea Party movement, had amassed one of the largest campaign war chests among House Republicans. His known supporters included organizations like Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

But he faced a tough re-election challenge against Murphy, who had hammered the first-term Republican for the intransigence that led to gridlock in Washington.

Murphy, a 29-year-old businessman and political newcomer, had strong backing from party headquarters and was one of the best-funded Democratic challengers in the country.

A certified public accountant whose father runs a construction company in Miami, Murphy turned the race into a referendum on West, calling the Republican an extremist member of a "do-nothing" Congress.

The battle in Florida's new 18th district was seen as a test of whether a high-profile - some say polarizing - conservative could win one of the biggest swing districts in a perennial swing state.