I remember like it was yesterday. My family had joined my sister in Austin for election night 2000 celebrations as we waited for the results of voting that day between Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore. What no one knew was that we would wait, and wait, and wait … for a total of 34 days. The election was not decided until December 12.
My Austin sister worked with Texas Governor Bush as his speech writer before joining his presidential campaign so my family drove from the Shenandoah Valley down through Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas, arriving at her house in Austin on election eve. On election day, a cold front and rain passed through Austin as we gathered with thousands downtown with our special passes and our Bush caps and our two children who had worked the campaign with us in Augusta County.
When it became apparent no decision about the outcome was going to known that night, we reluctantly and disappointingly returned to my sister’s house to watch television coverage until the wee hours of the morning. We finished out our week in Texas and drove back to Virginia, still not knowing if the long hours, days, and months of work had panned out.
And it all took place 15 years ago tonight. Interestingly, the same thing would happen four years later when President Bush ran for reelection against John Kerry, with no results known election night. While the wait wasn’t as long — we knew the next day — the George W. election and reelection were both denied the fun and joy of celebrating a win on election night.
I hope we never go through that again….