Deveron Gibbons held out until the end
ST. PETERSBURG -- His supporters munched on tortilla chips and guacamole, but Deveron Gibbons was nowhere to be found for the first 90 minutes of his campaign party Tuesday night at Push Ultra Lounge.
As the mail ballot results came in, showing a 10 percent gap between Gibbons and frontrunners Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster, his campaign staff huddled in a corner around a laptop.
At 8:15 p.m., campaign consultant Adam Goodman acknowledged the race was likely over.
"If the numbers hold, I think we are going to end up short," he said. "We'll end up in third, a close third."
But 15 minutes later, Gibbons said he still had hope. Told the numbers seemed to favor Ford and Foster, he responded, "We will see. I don't know."
He said he had no regrets.
"We ran a great race," he said.
Later, when the numbers clearly showed he could not win, he and Deputy Mayor Go Davis left the party for about 10 minutes to chat in a stairwell.
He came back to give a positive concession speech.
"Now listen, this is a celebration. This is a party," he told a cheering crowd.
The nightclub was filled with leaders in the black community, including Assistant Police Chief Luke Williams, restaurateur Mike Atwater, state Rep. Darryl Rouson and Gershom Faulkner, a Democratic activist.
Mayor Rick Baker soon appeared on stage to congratulate Gibbons.
"I don't think you've heard the last of Deveron Gibbons," he said.
Gibbons was an ardent supporter of Baker's in the 2001 and 2005 mayoral elections. Many assumed Baker would return the favor this time around, but he largely stayed away from Gibbons' campaign until Tuesday night.
Gibbons shrugged when asked about Baker's lack of support during the campaign.
Baker said he ultimately decided not to support anyone in the primary, but could endorse a candidate in the general election soon.
Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer