There's a kid running around sucking the helium out of the red, white and blue centerpiece balloons here in the Palomar ballroom, and just like that, over the last hour or so, somebody's let the air out of the party here.
While the crowd's still going hard for Boehner on the FOX News TV feed, Danny Clancy and Wade Emmert's hopes at a Dallas County upset are looking ever slimmer, with just nine percent of the precincts left to report. Party chair Jonathan Neerman's trotting out Cindy Burkett and other State House winners, but Clancy just came down to make the rounds a few minutes ago, and he's starting to sound even more tired than the '90s rock hits being piped in through the speakers.
"We want to be up," he told us a minute ago. "And we're not up. So we're down." He and Clancy have been up in Neerman's room most of the night reading the precinct maps, but so far nobody's making a move. "If the appropriate time reveals itself, we'll pick up the phine and we'll pick up the phone, we'll call Craig Watkins, and we'll congratulate him," Clancy told us.
Though, to hear Sam tell it, he's been a tough guy to find tonight.
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Ah, but now this update: Emmert just came out and conceded to Clay Jenkins, followed in short order by Danny Clancy, throwing up a Rangers claw as he took the podium. Looking a little downtrodden while what's left of the crowd pushed up to the front and cheered, he talked about how he began his campaign: "We said together that Dallas County deserves better... This was not about Danny Clancy. This was about you." But then, despite being down 5,100-plus votes with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, he added: "We have run. And I'm not prepared to concede tonight."
In another half hour it'll be tomorrow morning, though, and we'll see if it's a different story by then.
One more update before we clear out: Clancy may still be giving Watkins the claw, but cover band extraordinaire Anchor Rose just dedicated Mellencamp's "Authority Song" to "Big Dan Clancy," and you'll recall that one doesn't end well for the underdog protagonist.
We caught Neerman walking out, sounding tired but upbeat on the strength of the party's performance in tonight's State House result. "Taking a step back and realizing how important those House races are with redistricting coming up," Neerman told us, "the D's have to be hugely disappointed. We ran the tables." Given the way things have gone for the party the last couple elections, he said this election's re-energized Dallas Republicans. "It's a mixed bag," he said. "But that we have a bag at all to mix is astounding."