HARTFORD –– Just past 12 p.m. on election night, hundreds of supporters of gubernatorial candidate and now Governor-Elect Dan Malloy crowded into a posh event space in Hartford, Connecticut: The Society Room. The mood was tense — the latest figures from CBS noted that Malloy was still trailing his Republican opponent Tom Foley — when the sound of a steel drum permeated the bustle in the room and Bob Marley’s voice coolly assured everyone that “every little thing’s gonna be alright.”
Suddenly, the whole room erupted into song. Some guests donned coats and ties and swirled glasses of red wine and Scotch as they sang along with the crowd. Others sported colorful t-shirts — the firefighter’s Union in bright yellow, members of the Service Employees International Union in rich purple — as they danced around in the space.
Hours earlier, around 8 p.m., guests had started filtering into the Society Room as the Beatles crooned “let it be, let it be.” Met by several varieties of meat on sticks and an open bar, the guests had little to do for the following five or more hours than sit or stand around and nervously anticipate the results.
The supporters at the event came from all kinds of backgrounds — from friends of the Malloys to Union workers who felt a close connection to Malloy to Democratic voters who simply wanted to experience the election night excitement.
Valery Johnson, a Union member, sat against the wall with half a dozen of her co-workers with anticipation carved onto her face. For weeks, she and her colleagues have been picketing, protesting against what she said were “unfair legal practices in the state of Connecticut.”
“Connecticut needs change, big change,” said Valery, “We are here to claim our victory.”
Up the tall spiral staircase was a smaller, more sparsely occupied space. Here Neil and Mary Jane Wynne, childhood friends of Malloy, sipped their cocktails, both excited and concerned for the night’s outcome.
“I’m worried about his chances,” said Neil Wynn, “but he deserves this.”
A few tables away, state-employed attorney James Malcolm sat with some friends from work, nodding his head as Michael Franti sang “and I know, one thing, that I love you.” Malcolm had never met Malloy personally, but he was there because he said he worried that Malloy might not win and wanted to watch it unfold.
The night continued on in a similar fashion — eating, drinking, chatting, checking the TV for updates — for hours. It was not until 11:50 p.m. that any announcements regarding the outcome of the election were made: Malloy’s running mate Nancy Wyman told the crowd that results were coming in around half an hour.
The half an hour quickly became an hour, but supporters remained crowded around the stage, proclaiming their love for the candidate with shouts of “WE WANT DAN, WE WANT DAN!”
When the crowd and the Beach Boys stopped shouting “Bar bar bar, bar, Barbara Anne” a silence fell over the room, quickly broken by a team of bagpipe players descending the staircase from the 2nd floor.
Chants of “WE WANT DAN” erupted much more, but this time, they were answered when Malloy appeared on stage with his family and team. Malloy took the stage past 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning and said, “it appears we have a victory!” But his opponent Republican Tom Foley was at the same time addressing a crowd in Greenwich and did not concede either. In fact, it was not until three days after the party that Malloy was actually named the winner in the election.
Malloy finished his address, and a few electronically produced notes sounded, quickly accompanied by the Black Eyed Peas joining in the celebration with “I gotta feeling, that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”