Mike Basford walked with glee around Dane County Clerk candidate Scott McDonell's backyard on Tuesday night, reading results from his tablet computer to McDonell's friends and neighbors.
Just before 10 p.m., Basford, chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County, and the candidate huddled around the screen, and McDonell emerged to tell supporters he was victorious and receive some high fives.
The crowd of around 20 gathered in McDonell's Doty Street driveway and backyard, drinking beer and eating food made by McDonell himself. But the highlight for the victorious candidate was sharing the time with his young daughters, who are seven and five years old.
"This is the first time I've had an election party with them, and I want them to experience some of that too," he said.
The unofficial results gave McDonell more than 16,000 votes, beating out second-place finisher and Madison administrative support clerk Mike Quieto by about 3,500 votes.
Quieto's campaign manager Zach Madden said Mike is "ready to get back to work" in Madison, and they felt good about the campaign, which grew contentious at times.
"Our campaign was run with hard work from Mike at every step of the way. When he wasn't working for the voters in the city of Madison, he was on the campaign trail talking to voters all around Dane County," Madden said. "We ran an honest, truthful campaign with the guy who was the progressive, professional candidate and we can't feel any better about the campaign we ran."
McDonell didn't necessarily feel the same, calling Quieto's campaign "deceptive and kind of negative," specifically referring to a recent controversy over campaign literature sent out by Quieto.
A campaign flier showed a picture of Quieto, state Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) who did not endorse anyone in the race, and state Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), who endorsed McDonell. While nowhere on the flier did it mention either candidate endorsing Quieto, McDonell said "faking an endorsement from Mark Pocan probably helped him."
"In the end, a solid, positive campaign won and I'm glad that's what happened," McDonell said.
Madden did not comment on the flier Tuesday night.
The third-place finisher, Sun Prairie Clerk Diane Hermann-Brown, expressed a similar sentiment towards Quieto, who she said spread a lie about her wanting to abolish absentee voting if elected.
"At the end, you had a candidate that was just saying things that weren't true and trying to defame you, and that's an obstacle you can't really fight when you don't have the money and you don't have the time to fight back with," Hermann-Brown said. "I'm walking away with my ethics, I'm walking away with my values still intact. I'm not sure the other candidates can say that."
Going forward, McDonell said he hopes to ensure minimal problems stemming from the recent voter ID law, as well as "revamp" county board agendas and meeting minutes so "anyone can find out what's going on in county government."
Hermann-Brown said in her position as a city clerk, she plans to hold McDonell to some of his campaign promises about increased funding for clerks in Dane County.
"I'm going to be reminding him of all of those things he was going to do for us," she said.
While the general election will take place in November, the Democratic candidate will be the only one on the ballot, so McDonell is assured to take over the position in January.