Journalists share a few Election Night memories
November 9, 2012 8:32PM
President Barack Obama walks onstage with his family, wife Michelle, and daughters, Malia, far left and Sasha holding the president's hand, before declaring victory at his re-election night event at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:44AM
Bill Foster: Shy Congressman
Maybe it’s his background in science instead of law or politics, but the new representative for the 11th Congressional District is notoriously camera-shy.
Which made for an odd sight at Congressman-elect Bill Foster’s victory party Tuesday night. The race was one of the most closely watched congressional contests in the county. And for hours beginning at 7 p.m., the ballroom of the Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook was filled with bright lights, video cameras, photographers, reporters attached to laptops and smart phones, supporters decked in blue and red, a big spread of food — and no candidate.
It wasn’t till almost 10 p.m., some time after the major networks began reporting Foster’s nearly 20-point lead, that the candidate took to the stage.
His victory speech — and time in front of the video cameras — clocked in at less than five minutes.
- Jenette Sturges
Judy Biggert: Courteous Congresswoman
Campaigns are very planned events so there’s no reason election night should be any different.
I was reminded of that Tuesday night as I hung out at longtime U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert’s party at the Hilton in Lisle. By 7:30 p.m., the party was set for a giant ballroom downstairs, but the candidate was upstairs in a hotel room with her family. There were few non-media people in the ballroom, but we were all anxious to get something we could use. The TV people wanted b-roll footage they could play in the background as they talked about the race throughout the night. And us wretched print scribes wanted to make sure we had at least one quote we could include in any early deadline stories. (Something like, “Early in the night, Biggert was confident about blah blah blah...”)
Campaign staffers told us that at 8 p.m., we could all go up to the hotel room where Biggert would make a brief statement and let the cameras get some footage.
When we got there, each TV station was let in one at a time. And when they came in, Biggert would turn to that station’s channel, so the family would be watching the “correct” election coverage.
At first I thought it was a bit more hokey TV drama. But having covered Biggert for several months, I tend to think it was just another little courtesy from a congresswoman who always made sure was trying to help the people who needed her.
- Matt Hanley
Going on Facebook the night of and the day after the election, it was surprising to note how many people claimed they had shed online “friends” per comments and posts being made about the national results.
A personal favorite that some probably found incendiary and I found so silly as to be funny: an image of an American flag with the stars field replace with a hammer and sickle.
Another fave: a post I copied to my page with a portrait of Thomas Jefferson with a quote attributed to him: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as causes for withdrawing from a friend.” A friend posted back: “Although he and his good friend John Adams had a very hard split up and had nothing to do with each other for decades.”
My own online contributions to try to lighten the mood:
A. (posted election night in reaction to TV coverage). I am leaning toward having a beer. It is likely that I will have one.
B. Obama would have been POTUS come Dec. 12 anyway. And the House and Senate remain pretty much the same. Which is to say, the pieces are all in place for the Mayan Apocalypse.
- Mike Danahey
It wouldn’t have been the first time my eyes deceived me.
Election nights, especially presidential ones, are known for going late, early into the next morning, on into the next day. As I looked at the returns from Kendall County, I thought this was another of those times my tired, bleary, early-morning, coffee-fueled eyes were playing tricks on me. Hah, I thought, it looks like two Democrats are winning Kendall County Board races.
Wait ... I looked at the top right corner of my computer, and it said 10:30 p.m. What?! It’s not even late! My eyes aren’t tired yet, I’m wearing my glasses. There’s no tricks here: Two Democrats are leading the race for Kendall County Board. As I stopped for a moment, another realization came over me: These results were final. All precincts in, 83 out of 83. So, Democrats won? Wait, the results are done at 10:30? On a presidential election night?
Well, this was my ninth presidential election, my 34th year overall. I’ve covered so many elections, I cannot even recall the number.
And now I’ve seen everything.
- Steve Lord
Diversity in DuPage
Aurora Democrat Tony Michelassi netted a nod Tuesday night for a second term representing District 5 on the DuPage County Board. But the 27-year-old officeholder still hasn’t fully embraced the wacky ways of local politics.
“I was a little disappointed. I was hearing stories about my signs being taken down all over the place,” Michelassi said of the placards that had popped up across Naperville and the East Side of Aurora late in the campaign. “That’s not a problem — it’s politics. But it’s unfortunate somebody chose to spend so much of their time doing that.”
Michelassi remains one of just three Democrats on the 18-member board, which governs a briskly diversifying county in which 40 percent of the residents now identify themselves as Democrats, the DuPage Election Commission says. But Michelassi is no longer the junior legislator. That title now goes to new District 6 board member Laurie Nowak, 25, a Democrat from Bartlett who will join incumbent Republicans Jim Zay and Bob Larsen in representing the northwest corner of the county.
Nowak’s gender puts her in a second sort of freshman class. When the new members are sworn in next month, the DuPage board will see its female delegation — currently consisting of lone soldier and outgoing District 1 representative Rita Gonzalez — begin to grow again.
After peaking at nine in 1996, before the County Board and Forest Preserve District became separate governing bodies, the number of women on the board began a steady decline. Three of the four who won seats in November 2008 have since stepped down.
In addition to Nowak, voters this week also chose Aurora resident Tonia Khouri, who has a long history of involvement with local Republican organizations and will be part of the District 5 team, along with Michelassi and fourth-term Republican Jim Healy of Naperville; Liz Chaplin, a Democrat from Downers Grove who also will represent a small corner of Naperville in District 2; and Amy Grant, a Wheaton Republican.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 51 percent of the people who live in DuPage are female.
- Susan Frick Carlman