Though the cheering had already started much earlier, Deidre Malone did not accept the fact of her victory in the Democratic Party primary until 9:43 p.m. Election Night.
Local Democratic Party activist Lexie Carter quieted the crowd, and from the Madison Avenue headquarter's back porch steps announced, "With 94 percent of the precincts in, she (Malone) has 13,340 votes, (the Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr.) is at 12,148, giving him 33 percent. So with (County Commissioner) Steve Mulroy already conceding, Deidre has won. Mr. Whalum would have to get 5 percent of the total remaining votes to win."
Accepting the numbers at that moment, a visibly-moved Malone released a few tears. She turned and hugged her husband strongly for several seconds, then waded through the usual media blather before answering this question: Can she really beat incumbent Republican Mark Luttrell?
Some supporters appeared offended that the question was asked. Malone, president and CEO of The Carter Malone Group, a public relations, marketing and advertising firm, responded resolutely.
"Oh yes, and this campaign showed why we can win," said Malone, a former County Commissioner. "This was a hard fought race with very formidable candidates but we got out there and touched the people. We're going to do the same to unseat Mr. Luttrell.
"Democrats have got to pull together, this campaign has got to raise money, fight hard, find the voters and touch them with our message. There are a lot of people here tired of the same old messages and want to live in a unified county. Our job is to find them, and we will, and to inspire them to help us push this county forward."
Mulroy, whose campaign headquarters was nearby in Minglewood Hall, answered directly when asked if white Democrats would come out strongly to support Malone.
"They should. That's the problem we have here in Shelby County. We have Democrats, progressives and independents that are afraid to make a stand," said Mulroy.
"We all know, Republicans, everyone, what the real issue is in this county is poverty and there is no ignoring it and no polite process to attack it. It's time to get real and I am proud of my campaign for bringing out and staying focused on the issues; poverty and education. It's time we got real in Shelby County."