By Yaël Ossowski | Wisconsin Reporter
MILWAUKEE— The crowd downtown was mum by 9 p.m. at the election night rally for supporters of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Barrett.
Eyes were glued to the large plasma screen television in the corner, where MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was breaking the news that projections from her own news organization called a win for Barrett’s opponent, Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
The loud cheers and jubilant smiles that once were shared among the crowd were now expressed only on the television, in a live shot of the opposing Republican rally where the more numerous supporters of embattled governor Walker celebrated the projected victory.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a prominent civil rights activist who campaigned actively for Barrett, stared blankly at the live results feeding in and calmly shared words with his staff.
On stage, before Barrett made any appearance, state senators and party spokesman grabbed the microphone and declared that victory was still in sight; citizens were still voting all across the city.
“We will not let the media corporations decide this race for us,” Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate assured the crowd, overshadowed by the large red check mark next to Walker’s name now being projected on the corner plasma screen.
Perhaps in a move that foreshadowed the outcome, supporters begin turning away from live election results. The television was turned to a corner of the room in anticipation of a Barrett speech.
At last, he appeared onstage, proud but defeated, holding the hands of his daughters as he approached the microphone.
“We are a state that has been deeply divided,” the Milwaukee mayor admitted.
“I just got off the phone with Gov. Walker and congratulated him on his victory,” said Barrett, immediately blanketed by boos and gasps from the crowd.
“It’s not over!” screamed one supporter, eventually rolling into a chorus of condemnation of the mayor’s easy concession.
“So it is up to all of us: our side and their side, to listen. To listen to each other and try to do what is right for everyone in this state,” he said.
“The state remains divided and it is my hope that while we have lively debates, a lively discourse which is healthy in any democracy, those of us that are victorious tonight, as well as those of us who are not victorious tonight, can at the end of the day do what is right for Wisconsin families,” he said.
Barrett’s somber words seemed to leave the crowd disappointed. Running mate Mahlon Mitchell offered the most energetic call to action for the defeated troops.
“What is important is that we fought. We fought and we will continue to fight. This carries on,” Mitchell said to applause.
“And for now, this fight carries on into November to re-elect Barack Obama as president of the United States!”