BOSTON—For Shannon P. O’Brien, it ended with a whimper.
In the ballroom at the Sheraton Boston where Democratic gubernatorial candidate O’Brien held her election night event, the mood was somber and the crowd thin, by victory party standards.
“I am nervous but at peace,” said Campaign Manager Dwight Robson at the start of the evening. “We ran hard, [and] she’s a great candidate.”
Robson blasted Republican challenger W. Mitt Romney for what he described as millions of dollars worth of negative ads, even before the primary had ended.
In contrast, Robson said, he hoped O’Brien had gained momentum by running what he called a mostly positive campaign—particularly in its final days. Democratic primary candidate Robert B. Reich, who attended the event, said both candidates were equally culpable for using negative campaigning.
“Both campaigns got bogged down in mudslinging...[it’s] a Massachusetts tradition. Maybe it’s in our drinking water,” he mused.
Save for a speech by victorious Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the ballroom floor was quiet until 11 p.m., when O’Brien emerged from her upstairs suite to deliver her concession speech.
The crowd, which had largely dispersed following Kerry’s speech, appeared tired and bedraggled from a day of phone calls, sign-holding and face-to-face campaigning near polling places.
Daniel A. Schlozman ’03, an officer of the Ward 8 Democratic Committee, said he had spent the morning calling progressive voters and encouraging them not to vote for Green Party candidate Jill E. Stein ’72-’73.
Their efforts might not have been effective, but O’Brien and running mate Christopher F. Gabrieli said the campaign had left its mark on the Commonwealth.
“This was a campaign about ideas,” Gabrieli said while introducing O’Brien before her concession speech. “The people of Massachusetts will be better off...because of this [it].”
“Even though we didn’t win tonight, we already made history,” O’Brien told supporters.
The highlight of the night had little to do with state politics.
While supporters watched local television channels project Romney the winner, Kerry came to the stage at 10 p.m. to announce his re-election victory over Libertarian challenger Michael E. Cloud.
Standing with his shipmates from his time in the Vietnam War, Kerry made no mention of the gubernatorial race, focusing largely on issues of national policy—particularly the prospect of war with Iraq.
“America should never go to war because it wants to,” he said to loud cheers and applause. “It should go to war only because it has to.”
—Staff writer David S. Hirsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.