The 2012 campaigns came to an end on Election Day, in a stunning victory for Democrats, and in disbelief for Republicans.
The day began with reports of heavy voter turnout with few problems at the polls. At the Minnesota GOP Victory Party at the Bloomington Hilton, the evening began with cautious optimism. The parking lot was full to overflowing by 7:00 p.m., with television satellite trucks stationed on the south side of the hotel. Activists admitted the possibility of losing the majority in the Minnesota Senate, but expected to retain control of the House. They were hopeful for at least a slim Electoral College win for Mitt Romney, with fingers crossed.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who ran unopposed for reelection, hosted a hospitality suite with his family and Chester, the family bulldog and mascot of the self-proclaimed Hennepin County Taxpayer Watchdog. The suite became the unofficial headquarters for SD44 activists, where they monitored the election returns via cable TV and a rather flakey WiFi connection, while munching on popcorn, party mix, and yes, "puppy chow."
The SD48 hospitality room, really a conference room, was standing room only with candidates and activists and the requisite TV displaying election coverage.
At his hospitality suite, U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills greeted a steady stream of supporters, as his campaign staff hovered over a laptop computer. I spent a few minutes with Bills communications manager David Strom before the candidate gave the nod, and then led his entourage downstairs to the main ballroom to deliver a gracious concession speech while encouraging the party faithful to stay engaged to fight in 2014.
Chris Fields, who challenged Democrat Keith Ellison in the Fifth U.S. Congressional District, admonished Republicans to hold elected officials at all levels accountable by continuing to discuss campaign issues like the economy and government spending. Receiving over 25% of the vote in the Fifth, Fields asserted that Republicans achieved a new credibility in the historically-Democrat district.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt