VIENNA, Va. (WJLA) – Terry finally could be Terry again.
He could be the guy that, in truth, he always has been – a happy-go-lucky soul who bounds through life with unbridled enthusiasm.
And when Terry McAuliffe bounded onto the stage to join his family, he gave them all hugs and then strutted – almost skipped -- across the platform pointing at his fans and giving numerous thumbs-up.
He couldn’t stop smiling.
“What a great night, everyone!” he shouted with a hoarse voice.
Whoops all around.
“Give yourself a round of applause,” he said.
He thanked his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, for his service to the Commonwealth but quickly shifted back into Mr. Smiley mode.
His speech did include snippets of serious talk but not a lot.
It was as if he had been unleashed.
Understand, McAuliffe had spent the final couple of months trying to be as serious and stern as possible during campaign appearances – trying to present himself as a sober, serious-minded candidate who wasn’t anything like the fun-loving fundraiser for which he previously was known.
But Tuesday night? Not a chance.
Not that there weren’t some nervous moments for McAuliffe supporters crammed inside the Fairfax Ballroom and on the balcony here at the Sheraton Premiere hotel. As the evening wore on, Cuccinelli’s lead may have been slowly slipping but he nonetheless remained in the lead.
And when CNN kept reporting the race was too close to call, and as folks kept checking their iphones, there was a palpable sense of nervous puzzlement. These people not only expected McAuliffe to win, but to win big.
But a little after 9:30, McAuliffe finally edged ahead and when the slim advantage was flashed across the giant television screen, the party goers finally could exhale.
And then the lead began to grow and grow, however slightly.
Finally, shortly before 10, CNN called the race for MuAuliffe – a few minutes after CBS had done likewise.
Wild screaming. Hugs. High fives (this was no time for fist bumps). A sea of arms raised in celebratory glee.
At the back of the room, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, did a little jig as she greeted one of McAuliffe’s press people.
A little more than a half hour later, Cuccinelli’s concession speech was broadcast.
“I’m obviously disappointed by this outcome,” he said, “and I know you are, too.”
The crowd here erupted in gleeful laughter.
Soon thereafter, it was Terry time.
Make that party time.