Thursday, June 14, 2007

Done....and Won!

Scheduling a victory party before an election always seems somewhere between foolhardy and tempting the gods to teach us a lesson.

There we were on Election Day evening in the same historic Manchester Grange building where the caucus began the campaign. The group was smaller, and certainly more weary, as we waited for results when the polls closed at 8.

These are small towns, remember, still using the traditional hand-counted ballots. No electronic voting machines or hanging chads for us here in House District 83 (Manchester, Belgrade, Vienna (that's Vie-enna, please!), Fayette, and Mount Vernon.

First in was Fayette: 184 for Democrat Deane Jones, 152 for Republican Penny Morrell. Looking close, but not too bad.

Next, a call from our poll watcher in Belgrade, Penny's home town: 346 for Deane, 432 for Penny. The balance had shifted, but the Belgrade results were actually better than we had expected.

Then, a wait, followed by a call from Vienna's polling place: 110 for Deane and 56 for Penny. Cheers from the assembled volunteers.....two to one will do that to you.

The votes were added up and called out, then added up again. You guessed it: a dead heat at 640 votes apiece.

Voices were a bit quieter, but if there was a tie with Belgrade's results already in, things were looking good. At least that's what we kept reminding ourselves during the endless wait for the two last towns' vote counts.

It seemed to take forever, testing our faith and sending some of the more exhausted volunteers home to bed. Finally a cell phone ring tone, and the numbers from Manchester: 485 for Deane, 257 for Penny. Cheers erupted. It looked like a secure win. After all, the only missing town was Mount Vernon, Deane's home and the town he had served for years as selectman. Still, town officials running for higher office don't always get a landslide; there's always the guy unhappy about last year's school budget.

But the wait, this time, was not long. Mount Vernon did support its head selectman: Deane 344, Penny 283. Soon certified by the Secretary of State's office, the results were final, and Deane was going to the state legislature.

Much cheering, back slapping, and even a bit of hugging. All those thousands of phone calls, all those miles of travel from door to door, had paid off. Mainers decided, again, that candidates who speak out in favor of equal rights for all, for a woman's right to choose, deserved their support.

You can read more about Deane's first day in the legislature in our local daily, the Kennebec Journal

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