David Bragg figured it would be a long shot anyway, and really had no expectations. Still, he learned a lot about political races and Menlo Park learned a lot about one of its own.
The 34-year-old former Marine and current firefighter placed fifth in the race for two spots on the Menlo Park City Council Tuesday night, receiving 2,036 votes.
"I'm impressed and surprised at the amount of support I received," Bragg said toward the end of an election night party that ranks up there with the best of them. "It's great that many people believed in me. I started out as a regular guy and I continue to be a regular guy."
No one was turned away from the party hosted by friend Hany Sabet. There was plenty of good food (provided by Borinquen Soul), plenty of beverages and an earthy-designed pool large enough to fit a hot tub, slide and more than a dozen children of various ages.
At the beginning of the evening, Bragg said getting about 2,000 votes would make it all worthwhile. So when the first results were released, the mail-in ballots, he was reassured with 1,035 votes to his credit.
There were several big screen televisions around the home, all tuned in to CNN. Bragg is a "red-shirted Republican" and the early results showing Mitt Romney ahead were encouraging.
Meanwhile, kids in bathing suits ran around half-dry (or was it half-wet?), stopping in at the computer or somebody's cell phone, to check in on the latest results.
It didn't seem to matter that Bragg was losing. They were having such a good time it seemed like a win-win situation.
"I really have to thank my wife, Anna, for picking up everything and supporting all this while I campaigned," Bragg said. "I'm sure Ray and Cat will do some great things for the city. I'm sure I'll see them around."
Ray Mueller had the most votes and Catherine "Cat" Carlton finished second in a race amoing five candidates for two spots. Incumbent Kelly Fergusson finished a close third, followed by Belle Haven resident Carolyn Clarke, also running for the first time.
Bragg did get to celebrate one victory Tuesday night when Atherton's Measure M passed overwhelmingly, providing for a possible baseball field in the city.
Mike Haven, who wrote the measure, coaches with Bragg in both the Menlo-Atherton Little League program and Menlo-Atherton Pop Warner program.
Wendy Love, a multi-talented woman of boundless energy, seemed to be everywhere at once, partying, flirting and taking pictures.
Rich Bragg, Dave's older brother, several of Bragg's employees, fellow Pop Warner coach Randall Lane, Menlo Park Assistant Fire Marshall Ron Keefer, neighbor Mike Allen and entrepanuer Nate D'Amico were only some of the guests at the gala event.
It would not have been a true celebration, though, without Shereen, Shauna, Eli, Tracy, Whitney, Hailey, Maddie and Brandon, among others, in attendance.
And it was a celebration. After a while no one was worried about Bragg's fifth-place finish. It became more like a family gathering, a place where there was no such thing as a stranger and everybody felt like everybody else just belonged.
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