First of all, I DO know that Steve Benjamin got elected tonight, despite what you read on Twitter and Facebook. My Tweets were taking half an hour to post, and Facebook an hour or two, so people were going huh? over Tweets that made it seem I was still in suspense LONG after the results were certain. Which is embarrassing for a journalist. I had Wyeth Ruthven making fun of me, which isn’t good.
But I assure you, I knew what was happening, because I was in the thick of it. That was the problem — reception was lousy in the bowels of the Convention Center.
I was at the Finlay “victory” party in Five Points right after 7, when they thought they were going to win because they had won Rosewood, Dreher and Hand precincts. I left for the Benjamin HQ expecting to find dejection, but by the time I was there everything was breaking his way.
It was pretty awesome being in the room when Steve made his victory speech. I was right up front, and when I congratulated him, I got one of those regular-guy combination handshake-hugs — which was also embarrassing for a serious journalist, but I was happy for him. In fact, I was caught up enough in the moment to Tweet this, which DID actually post, during his speech:
This is awesome. I’m happy for Steve, for everybody in this room, and for Columbia…
And I meant it. It was a big moment. I mean, the man had tears coursing down his face as I sent that out. And if you didn’t get a contact high from being in that crowd, you’ve got ice water in your veins.
His speech was excellent. I’m going to try to upload the video tonight, but I can’t say “film at 11” because I know it will take MUCH longer than that for the video to upload to YouTube.
But the best part of all? Seeing the happy Democrats (James Smith, Anton Gunn, Boyd Summers, etc.) and Republicans (Rick Quinn, Butch Bowers, Kevin Hall — at least, I heard Kevin was there) together there, and hearing the chant, begun by the mayor-elect, of “ONE Columbia.”
Reminds me of that awesome night in that same building when the people chanted “Race Doesn’t Matter!” in celebrating the Obama victory in the SC primary…