I got to Corky's in Flowood at 6:56PM and left at 10:36PM. I left just after Charlie Ross conceded defeat to the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor.
When I got there, it was a fairly lively get-together. They were all talking on how it was a close race but Ross would pull it off. Because there would be no results coming in for an hour, I was able to mingle with the crowd. They said it was a tough campaign and Ross had been trailing throughout the entire campaign. But now the momentum was swinging Ross' way and he would be nominated. They told me their polls had it neck-and-neck and the momentum would lead them to victory. Despite their optimism, I had a gut feeling it didn't look good. I saw independent polls showing Ross trailing 50%-40% with 10% undecided. With the undecideds allocated, Ross would get 44% of the vote.
Around 8PM, the first precinct came in and Ross was trailing, 58-50. I knew this was one lousy precinct, but I had a gut feeling Ross was going to lose (I wrote in my diary Monday night Ross would get 44% of the vote.). I did an analysis of prior GOP primaries and general elections. In 96.8% of the time, whoever was leading when the first report came that candidate would win.
A while later, a second report with 3% of the statewide vote showed Ross trailing 1355-1286. It was still close and a lot of folks were hoping Ross would win. The next four reports showed it close, but Ross was still trailing in every one of them.
Then came the body blow. With 27% of the vote, Ross was trailing 27021-20989. I knew right then it was all over. I had a staffer come up to me and ask how the vote totals were going and the trend. I told her Ross lost. She told me the Coast and DeSoto County hadn't come in. I told her it was all over. Around 10PM, with 43% of the vote, Ross was trailing 48162-37372. I overheard a staffer say on his cell phone he was still waiting for the Coast. But having been through many a campaign, I knew it was all over.
There were about a hundred or so people there. While most of them are going to vote for the GOP nominee, many of them are going to either sit it out and not vote for Bryant or do like me and vote for Jamie Franks. I would say 80% to 85% will vote for Bryant. But Franks is going to get quite a few of the remainder. These were not your run-of-the-mill GOPers who like to go to parties and schmooze with people and the candidate. These are die-hard Republicans who are foot soldiers and spear carriers for the conservative movement and the GOP. These are the types who give the small bucks and the sweat equity in the campaign. I noticed there were some very well-heeled GOPers in the crowd. But I saw a lot of average Joes and Janes who are dedicated to the conservative movement. They do not look at Bryant as a spear carrier for the movement. They look at him as a pretty boy who cares only for his own political ambitions. I had one very strong conservative say, "If this were San Francisco, Phil Bryant would be the Grand Marshall of the Gay Pride Parade. He'd do or say anything to get elected." Having a good minority of die-hard, spear-carrying conservatives sit out the race or cast a ballot for Franks does not sit well for Bryant. I know the Philbots will strongly disagree, but I was there. Many of the people there look upon Bryant as a "country club conservative" and not a "Main Street conservative." Anybody who knows the GOP knows there is a deep distrust and animus between the two groups. My opinion of country club Republicans would never be printed in the BAPTIST RECORD.
Why isn't Bryant going to get a higher percentage? Many of them have a bitter dislike for him. I heard one man Bryant had nothing but a big ego. A couple told me Bryant was an empty suit. Some of them knew him on a personal level and didn't like him one bit. One lady said all he could do was talk about "Me, me, me. He didn't give a flying flip about me or what I thought." Others told me they think Bryant is too slick. I will not print some of the profanity (not from me, despite my deep dislike for Bryant) that was used to describe Bryant.
Gov. Haley Barbour proclaimed neutrality throughout the campaign, but unless you were a space alien from the planet Qantarius you could tell whom he was backing. He arrived at the party at 8PM and was still there when I left. Indeed, he was on the podium when Ross gave his concession speech. Also, his brother Jeppy was Ross' campaign manager.
Charlie Ross gave a good concession speech. He asked everybody to get behind Bryant in the general election. I carefully observed the crowd (I was at a great vantage point. I was right near the door facing the crowd.) and their reaction. I saw some of them sigh and quite a few of them were rolling their eyes. Most of them gave polite applause when he said we had to get behind Bryant so Barbour would have someone to help shepherd his goals through the State Legislature. Ross said he would always be a "wing man" for Barbour.
After that, I headed to the parking lot. I had to get up early in the morning and go to work. Later on, I'll write on my observations as to why Ross lost and what Jamie Franks should do to win in November.