The energy at David Warnock’s mayoral race watch party on Tuesday was high, but in unexpected ways. There was little suspense or vigilance as the polling results came on TV.
Packed into the small-but-swanky room with 40-plus other people who shouted over blaring remixes of Tove Lo and Ellie Goulding felt like being at the rich kid’s sweet 16 party where their parents had invited all their nautically-dressed pals.
Warnock supporters weren’t there because they expected a win. It became clear when Warnock arrived and circled the room to embrace attendees (for like, 5 seconds at a time), that they were there to show solidarity.
The demographics of the crowd pointed to Warnock’s somewhat varied background. A few members of the Global Low Income Network (based in Virginia) arrived early and relaxed in the corner. They supported Warnock because of his promise to provide low income families with work. They also cited his philanthropic work with Center for Urban Families (from which he stepped down as board chairman to run for mayor) as evidence of his qualifications. They said he entered the race for all the right reasons.
The majority of the attendees, though, seemed to be colleagues or acquaintances of Warnock’s, some didn’t live in Maryland (and, I’d venture to guess, most didn’t live in Baltimore). General topics of overheard conversation (when it didn’t revolve around the candidate) included golf, gossip, business jargon, and the disappointed consensus that the race was always between Pugh and Dixon; one supporter casually asserted that Dixon voters want to keep crime in Baltimore, and are “of the criminal element.”
Two supporters sat and talked about the decline of the city, pointing to the area around Carroll Park as an example. “It’s gotten better, but it really used to look like a war zone,” one of them said, and went on to compare some streets of Baltimore to North Africa. “It’s a shame,” he said about Warnock’s loss. “He could’ve changed things. But people here don’t want change.”
Most people at the watch party cited Warnock’s career as a venture capitalist as the reason he could have brought opportunity and jobs to Baltimore—and indeed, Warnock didn’t campaign on much else. As for his economic expertise: he loaned $1.8 million out of pocket to his campaign, spent a total of $2.5 million on the race, and brought in 10,094 votes for a fourth-place finish. That’s $240 per vote, according to data from the Sun.
In his concession speech, Warnock thanked his supporters and God profusely, and emotionally exalted his girlfriend Michelle for being his “rock” and “cheerleader.” He assured the crowd repeatedly that he’s “just getting started,” and that he’s going to continue his work for Baltimore’s schools and workforce.