Election night is a cynic’s sweet spot. I’ve covered enough at this point to take them for what they are: Fool’s gold. Every candidate has aspirations and grand plans. All have visions of how they will change things for a perceived better. Most actually believe it, but what the folks so closely involved in these various elections don’t fully understand is no one else cares even nearly that much. The majority considers the process a necessary evil. Right or wrong, most people would just as soon get more worked up over the results of the latest ‘American Idol’ episode.
One of the hopeful candidates I covered last night was Ade Onayemi, who was running for Cook County District One Commissioner. By most accounts I’ve heard, he’s a good man. I have had a few conversations with him and gather he’s a solid person who is passionate about helping others and is sensible, calm and best yet normal. So many politicians lose touch. Onayemi, it appears, has not. Yet.
Of course nice guys rarely win and Onayemi was just the latest name on that ever-growing list. He lost to Earlean Collins, the incumbent who has held the seat since 1998. I’ve met Collins too, although I don’t have a handle on what type of person she is. My guess is those years in office have changed her drastically. Not all for good.
Surrounding Onayemi last night were supporters and volunteers who nervously watched results trickle in, pointing often to computer screens and analyzing the latest results as if they added up to some sort of secret equation to solve all the world’s problems. A band played upbeat classic rock tunes — the same songs Barack Obama played during his campaign — and those in attendance downed light beers and appetizers as the moment of truth inched closer. It was all very “Primary Colors”-esque, just like every other election night gathering.
When Onayemi first arrived, it was to a room full of applause and cheers. I made several photos of him hugging supporters, but I liked this one. I was lucky to catch the flash from another photographer’s camera as Onayemi made his way to the microphone to essentially concede the race to Collins. It’s funny how a photo of a politician on the losing end looks strikingly similar to those at the victory parties.