HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- The Republican candidate in a hotly contested Chester County legislative race conceded on Thursday after a recount showed his opponent ahead by 28 votes.

The defeat of Shannon Royer means Democrats will control the state House for the first time in 12 years.

"We fought until every last ballot was counted and came up a few votes short," Royer said. "It's been a tough year to be a Republican running for an open legislative seat in the suburbs."

A hand-recount showed Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith beat Royer, 11,616 to 11,588. Lawyers from both sides told the judge presiding over the recount they would drop all pending challenges, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its Web site.

New House members will be sworn in and the speaker elected on Jan. 2.

Democrats intend to elect Greene County Rep. Bill DeWeese as speaker. Republicans have nominated Philadelphia Rep. John M. Perzel, who has been speaker since April 2003, to return to the post.

With the margin so close, there has been widespread speculation in the state Capitol about whether one party or the other will be able to entice someone from the other side to vote against their party, or even to simply not show up when the vote for speaker is held.

DeWeese has called for Perzel to vacate the speaker's spacious offices on the first floor of the Capitol.