Scott Thornton looked downtrodden at the election watch party for his campaign against three-term incumbent Marsha Rummel in Madison's District 6 aldermanic race. At about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, an hour and a half after the polls closed, Thornton left a dozen supporters at One Barrel Brewing Company. He walked a few blocks down Atwood Avenue to the Harmony Bar, where he conceded to Rummel.
"I thought that I would bring a positive change," said Thornton, before heading out.
He's not the only one. Dick Wagner, a campaign volunteer and longtime friend of Thornton, thought he would bring something new to the district and city. Wagner is a former Dane County supervisor and, like Thornton, served as the president of the Marquette Neighborhood Association.
Rummel, who's served as the District 6 alder since 2007, won with about 2,588 votes (70.2%) to Thornton's 1,088 (29.5%).
"Races in this district are always lively," said Wagner. "I think Scott would have brought some new creative energy."
Wagner cited Thornton's involvement as association president in bringing poetry to the sidewalks on Williamson Street as a "blend of artistic vision with a public works project." He said Thornton channeled the area's creative energy in his campaign, citing the spirit of projects like Sector 67 and the foodie-oriented Underground Food Collective and Batch Bakehouse.
Before leaving for his concession, Thornton lamented the fact that his campaign was derailed by a negative mailer from an outside party, the Building a Stronger Wisconsin PAC.
Thornton said the discussion shifted toward the mailer, which he denounced, and away from the question of who was more qualified to work as alder.
Wagner said that races in the neighborhood and city focus too much on ideology, on "who's the most lefty [progressive candidate]," rather than on the candidates' creative talent.
Despite his loss, Thornton said he would seriously consider running again.
"I will continue to be involved in the neighborhood and the district and do the things that are important to me, and that's giving back to the community," he said.