The Portland Spirit is nice enough for a yacht well into its second decade of service. She was calm tonight in the Willamette, only stirred by the occasional tugboat. Like Metro president candidate Tom Hughes, this wasn’t her first election party.
Hughes, the former two-term mayor of Hillsboro, took it easy as backers arrived for what turned out to be a close election night in his race against Bob Stacey. The months of campaigning had ended and there was nothing left to do for Hughes but chat with his friends and supporters. When asked early on why he didn’t have a drink in his hand, Hughes replied, “I have to wait and see what kind of night it’s going to be—liquor or Champagne.”
Groups of the 100 or so attendees gathered around small LCD screens, careful not to bump the rabbit ears perched precariously in the window. Bobby Darin’s Greatest Hits were muffled by chatter as the first numbers rolled in on TV around 8:30 pm, showing Hughes was losing in Stacey’s Multnomah County base. “Which county was that for?” a woman yells. “Can someone please turn this up?”
The second batch of returns at 9:15 pm were kinder because they included Hughes’ suburban strongholds in Clackamas and Washington counties: Hughes, 51 percent; Stacey, 49 percent. Supporters cheered and raised their glasses from the open bar.
At 9:45 pm, it became obvious we wouldn’t know the outcome for the Metro race tonight.
As partygoers put down their glasses and grabbed jackets and purses in preparation to leave, Stacey Dycus, Hughes’ campaign manager, urged her candidate onstage.
“It looks like we’re going to be OK,” Hughes said as the crowd paused in front of the door to cheer. “We’re going to wake up tomorrow and take this region in a new direction.”
Before Hughes stepped down, Wayne Kingsley, chairman of the Portland Spirit, congratulated Hughes and handed him a bottle of Champagne.
The bottle remained on a nearby piano, unopened. Hughes will have to wait until the morning to have that drink, but he’s hoping for mimosas.