Last night, the Mrs. and I arrived at L.J. Bryant’s watch party at the Peabody about ten minutes after the Associated Press had called the race in his favor, and we were part of what became a steady stream of well-wishers. Bryant was finishing up a brief interview with a local TV station when we walked in the room, and we were hanging out in the background for a moment while other people crowded around to shake his hand and pat him on the back, when Bryant did two things that jumped out at me.
First, Bryant made it a point not just to work through the crowd — shaking every hand along the way — and shake my hand, but also to thank me for this blog’s support and offer some other kind words. Bryant recognized, as Blue Arkansas noted, that BHR’s research to debunk the emails was probably a big reason that the story did not damage Bryant’s chances appreciably. It would have been tremendously easy for Bryant to ignore this in the midst of celebrating the massive vote-total beatdown he put on Monty Davenport, but he did not.
Second, while everyone seemed to be treating Bryant as if he’d won the office already, he repeatedly stated that the race was far from over and that he wasn’t going to assume that he would win. Nevermind that everyone seems to think that John Thurston has little to no chance in November; Bryant was not going to let the success of last night cloud the fact that there was still work to be done. The candidate who can keep his head to that extent during the celebration of the high-point of his political career (so far) is rare. The 23-year-old who is that well-grounded is likely even more rare. Bryant was both last night, suggesting a degree of personal awareness that belies his age.