Hope turns to heartbreak at Lassiter campaign
Posted on 11 Nov 2009 by James Willamor
John Lassiter’s concession speech. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
Hope turned to heartbreak on election night at Republican John Lassiter’s mayoral campaign party.
Photos and essay after the jump:
A large crowd had already filled BlackFinn American Saloon at EpiCenter by the time Lassiter made his way through the crowd, just before 8 P.M. He addressed supporters by name as he shook hands with a smile.
John Lassiter greets supporters. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
A band played 70’s and 80’s Top 40 as men in tweed sport coats and women in pencil skirts sipped Sweetwater 420 and chardonnay. The crowd was lively and in high spirits. Large screens displayed early voting results throughout the bar. Supporters erupted in cheers as Lassiter passed Democrat Anthony Foxx by several hundred votes as the first precincts reported their tally.
Lassiter supporters watch early returns. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
Throughout the evening, prominent Charlotte Republicans arrived at BlackFinn, including Andy Dulin and Warren Cooksey. Both won their City Council reelection bids by wide margins. When current Mayor Pat McCrory finally arrived close to 9:30 P.M., he was immediately surrounded by the press.
Mayor Pat McCrory arrives. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
Lassiter supporters grew more concerned as the majority of the crowd became fixated on the large screens as Foxx retook the lead. Some checked their phones at the bar while others gathered around laptops at the back of the room, jotting down numbers and percentages on sticky notes. “There are still a few precincts left that could swing us,” commented one supporter.
Lassiter supporters look on as Foxx takes the lead. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
With only a handful of precincts left to report, frustration appeared to sweep over the once smiling and joking crowd. “It is a ghetto world after all,” quipped one devastated supporter as the reality of the defeat became apparent — the only loss of civility I witnessed all night. “Maybe next time, huh?” said one young man as he lifted his glass.
Supporters gather for Lassiter’s speech. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
Lassiter emerged to give his concession speech to the heartbroken crowd. He was a gracious looser, showing strength and class as he congratulated Anthony Foxx via phone and thanked his supporters. He asked the band to continue playing, and stepped back into the crowd. Lassiter spent the rest of the night offering long embraces and firm handshakes to family, friends and supporters who had volunteered with his campaign the better part of nine months.
Lassiter beings concession speech. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
By 11 P.M. the crowd had thinned out, and the several dozen remaining gathered around the bar, or in half circles around Pat McCrory or John Lassiter. A hint of cigar smoke was in the air.
Family and friends embrace after the concession speech. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
City Council candidate Tariq Scott Bokhari, who learned of his defeat earlier in the night, took the stage as the band wrapped up. Strumming a blues rhythm on an electric guitar, Bokhari performed a song that gave the remaining supporters a little something to smile about. “I got them old-fashioned Republican blues. I guess-everyone’s-gonna-get-a-four-and-a-half-million-streetcar-study blues,” quipped a grinning Bokhari.
Tariq Scott Bokhari plays Republican Blues. photo: James Willamor; view this photo on Flickr
Slideshow of all the photos below:
slideshow: James Willamor; view this slideshow on Flickr