At 8:00 p.m., before the first ballot had been tabulated and reported, Gene Taylor walked into the IP ballroom. He arrived with no tie, no jacket, and no fanfare. The applause came almost two hours later.
"We want to thank you," Taylor told a crowd of almost 120 supporters.
Everybody in the room knew he was going back to Washington for his tenth consecutive term on Capitol Hill. They acknowledged that election was merely a formality.
"I hope that I have and my crew has risen to the occasion," the congressman said, surrounded by many of those crew members.
Since Taylor was considered a shoe in to be re-elected, the suspense of the election night focused on TV screens and the national story of democrats versus republicans. If the democrats took over control of the house, Congressman Taylor stood to gain a chairmanship, and have a lot more power and influence on a key Armed Forces subcommittee.
"I certainly hope that the house will go democratic," he said. "I hope that I'll be in charge of shipbuilding."
Less than an hour later, Taylor's wish came true. Networks reported that the democrats won a lot more than the 15 seats they needed to regain control of the house. And they were just two races away from taking over the Senate. However, Taylor, a bluedog democrat who votes with his conscience a lot more than with his party, wasn't thrilled with the clean sweep concept.
"I'm very selfish," he admitted. "I hope Thad Cochran continues to be chairman of Appropriations, and that Trent is in the leadership of the Senate. I think that's not only best for south Mississippi, but I think that's the best thing for our nation." So we'll see how that turns out."
Taylor won his first congressional race in 1989. So, Tuesday's victory celebration was a bit more subdued. Nevertheless, Taylor and his friends smiled, hugged and cheered as they savored another election night triumph for the fourth district congressman.