On a conference call with reporters 6 p.m. Friday, Randy Pepple, campaign manager for Rob McKenna’s run for governor in Washington state, announced that McKenna has officially conceded the race to his Democratic opponent, Jay Inslee.

Pepple said that McKenna called Inslee to congratulate him on becoming Washington’s next governor about 15 minutes before the call. McKenna and Pepple then delivered the news to campaign staff, an announcement Pepple said was greeted with a “great degree of sadness.” Pepple gave high praise to his own campaign staff and more than once on the call mentioned the effort of the State Republican Party.

Pepple dismissed any notion that the healthcare lawsuit McKenna engaged in as Washington’s Attorney General was a factor in the race, and also rejected the idea that Republicans should see the results of his race as signs for a dim future in statewide politics. Pepple alluded that the strength of Pres. Barack Obama’s performance in Washington state created a steep uphill climb for any and all Republicans, McKenna being no exception.

“The tide that we were swimming against at the top of the ticket proved decisive,” Pepple told reporters.

Shortly after Inslee gave his acceptance statement to reporters at his own press conference, McKenna posted a video statement to Facebook in which he thanked his family and the staff and volunteers who worked on his campaign. McKenna promised to stay in public life and work for causes in education, business and continue his active involvement with the Boy Scouts.