Election Night '09: At the Mallahan Party, an Unclear Picture


Party: Mallahan for Mayor

Location: The Edgewater

Mood: Forced Optimism; Excitement mostly at the results of the other races

Drink of Choice: Anything in a flask, since bottled beer was 7 bucks. Even a Port of Seattle Commissioner in attendance--never ones to bat an eye at high prices--was outraged.

Joe Mallahan's campaign for mayor has always had a slightly noncommittal air to it. Leaving aside the cash he's poured into the race, the man himself has always come off as reasonably interested in being mayor, but not burning up with the kind of intense ambition for the job displayed by his opponent. So in a sense, Joe was right at home with tonight's results, which show the race pretty much up in the air.

"I think I will make a great mayor if I get the chance," Mallahan said, as he took the podium, about a half-hour after results were posted. (The assembled crowd had begun chanting "Joe! Joe! Joe! etc." which seemed more an expression of impatience than enthusiasm.) While he indicated that an early lead for McGinn was expected, Mallahan's speech and general bearing seemed far from confident of victory.

As usual, his awkward charm was in evidence, too. As he concluded a "moment of silence" for the slain SPD officer (whose name--Brenton--he struggled to pronounce), Mallahan called out "Let the church say 'Amen!'" That drew a response from Rainier Valley activist Dawn Mason: "See, he's been in the black church!" Indeed there was a relatively high African-American presence at the party. "This has been a campaign of inclusion," said Mallahan in his speech. "There's extraordinary diversity in this room."

There was also a great feeling of good cheer--though not because of Mallahan's results. Everyone in the crowd was so thrilled at all the other numbers--R71 passing, Eyman going down, Dow going up--that they seemed to be able to overlook the unpromising numbers from their own candidate. It may be that even for many diehard Mallahan supporters, the other races are ultimately more critical.

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