Although Alexandria voters gave the Democrats a clean sweep in Tuesday's City Council races you would not necessarily have known that walking in to Pat Troy's Restaurant & Pub in Old Town following the vote tally. Rather than a gloom and doom atmosphere there was more of a "we're just getting started" feel to the crowd.
"We didn't quite have the outcome we had hoped for but we should be very proud of the campaign we ran," said Doug Thurman, Troy's campaign manager, from the restaurant's stage behind a sign "Democrats for Troy."
Of the five Republican candidates running for City Council in an attempt to unseat the entrenched Democrats, Troy was the highest vote getter on the GOP ticket. But, even with just over 5800 votes he trailed the Democrats lowest vote getter, Ludwig Gaines, by some 2200 votes.
Preceding Troy to the stage were a host of campaign workers all in high spirits with a sense of almost itching to get going on the next race. "I started this campaign three years ago immediately after the last election when I ran as an independent," Troy told the overflow crowd.
"Doug has taken me to every meeting in this City and we have been involved in many debates. And, that's not going to stop," he said.
Referring to the host of campaign workers surrounding him, Troy said, "Friends are the most wonderful people. Many of these people don't even live or vote in Alexandria. But, they came here to work for me. I got the number of votes I did because of friends like this."
Troy's never say die attitude was echoed by the other GOP hopefuls which was quite different than at other recent Republican election night rallies. "I'm not going anywhere," said Craig Miller who garnered 4851 votes. "I intend to keep on attending meeting, speaking out on the issues and running again in three years."
THAT SAME STANCE was taken by Bernie Schulz after capturing 4,722 votes. "This has been a great race. And, I'm not going anywhere either. We're going to hone this down and the next time win. I'm running again in three years," he proclaimed.
More toned down than the two younger candidates were Towsend Van Fleet, the second highest GOP vote getter with 5561 at the final tally and Ken Foran who received 4767 votes.
"The real disgrace is not running. If people do not run they are not really trying to change things," Van Fleet said.
"I can guarantee that Council would not never have brought that budget down except for us. We kept their feet to the fire. They were scared of this election. That's what did it," Van Fleet said to cheers and applause.
Although Foran did not actually predict another race, he said, "I may very well run again. My commitment is to the people of Alexandria. Obviously, down the road, I'd like to do something about that."
He also reiterated his campaign statement that, "I think a balanced government is better and more responsive than one dominated by one party. It serves the people better. Just think what it would be like to have an all Republican Congress."
Chris Morrison, GOP chairman, buttressed Van Fleet's claim that this year's City budget deliberations were impacted by a fear of losing power to the Republicans. "We greatly influenced that budget. That five percent limit is not because the Democrats are conservative. It's because of us and their fear of this election," Morrison said.
FOLLOWING REMARKS by the other GOP contenders, Troy again took the microphone to proclaim, "The only thing good to come out of these results was Andrew Macdonald becoming vice mayor. Although, he is a Democrat he has backed many of things were are for."
He also echoed the pledge to keep up the fight. "We are going to keep on going to everything and give them hell. They poured almost five times as much money into these races as we did," Troy maintained.
According to his calculation the combined Democrat spending approached nearly $300,000 while the Republicans spent approximately $51,000. Republicans carried only two precincts. Three were among the top six vote getters at the City Hall precinct and two were among the six top candidates at Lyles Crouch. "Lovain spent over $72,000 himself and he hasn't done anything for this city. The only thing he has served on is the budget committee. And, look at that," Troy said. "We represent you and we will continue to represent you."
Referring to the fall Congressional elections, Troy urged those present to get out and defeat U.S.Representative James P. Moran (D-8). "There is an election in November. Let's get the people out and defeat Moran. He is vulnerable and can be beat," Troy insisted.
Of the 77,740 registered voters only 15,336 cast ballots or 19.7 percent making this election one of the lowest turn outs in recent memory. Half of the 24 precincts in the city came in under that average turnout of 19.7 percent. Voters at William Ramsey and John Adams schools plus NoVa Arts Center didn't break into the double digits.
But, even given the fact of the low turn out there was a feel of a growing strength within the GOP at this election night gathering. Given Troy's vow to keep attending meetings to "give'em hell" coupled with Miller's and Schulz's promise to run again the atmosphere was more like a kick off than a conclusion.