Charles Henderson already has plans for the “Write In Henderson” lawn signs if he decides to run for a judge position again.
“I can take a little white sticker, put it over the ‘Position 37' and then write in whatever position I'm running for,” he said, grinning. “Then I'll put another sticker over the ‘Write In' and add ‘Elect.'”
Henderson talked and joked with around 40 assembled supporters at the Bridgeport Brewpub and Bakery Friday night. The “Moral Victory Party” celebrated his write-in candidacy against Leslie Roberts for Judge Position 37. Henderson was out of town last Tuesday—making him perhaps the only candidate for elective office in America who could not host a party on Election Night.
Contested local judicial races are relatively rare. The kind of race Henderson was involved in is almost unheard of. The local lawyer launched a last-minute bid after Roberts managed to get the position's appointed incumbent kicked off the ballot for failing to meet residency requirements. The maneuver left Roberts alone on the ballot—and riled huge sections of the Portland legal community, who saw the gambit as a violation of both etiquette and ethics.
Despite Henderson's loss, everyone laughed and talked cheerily. Maybe the three days since the election had cushioned the blow, or maybe the supporters felt it was enough that Henderson had stolen around 33,000 votes from Roberts despite not officially being on the ballot. Or maybe the generous spread of bread, cheese, vegetables, baked brie and apples and a seemingly endless supply of pitchers of beer and bottles of wine kept their spirits up.
Henderson, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater with a pint of beer in hand, had his charm turned on full-blast. He moved around the room, chatting with neighbors, fellow lawyers, a member of his rowing team and the newly elected Fourth District Circuit Court Judge Adrienne Nelson.
“Running as a write-in candidate is like running along the track next to people who are racing and then saying, ‘Oh, I wasn't racing anyways' when you lose,” he said as listeners laughed.
So it seems that Henderson will survive the loss, despite devoting every weekend for the past six weeks to passing out flyers advocating his candidacy.
“Losing isn't the end of my life,” he said. “There are still a lot of things I want to do as a lawyer.”
But plans to run again, officially this time, aren't out of the question for him. So hold onto those lawn signs.