They began singing "I'm Just Wild About Jackie" at the Governor's Club party when 87 percent of the votes for comptroller were in and Jackie McLean was surging ahead.
Kenny Webster, McLean's campaign manager, chalked up the figures: Mary Conaway 12,713; Jody Landers 27,677 . . .
McLean's workers chanted "GO! GO! GO! GO! GO!"
Webster wrote McLean 35,451.
Now, McLean's workers exploded cheering and Dave Bunn's Quintet was playing "Happy Days Are Here Again."
Half an hour later as McLean was winning by 10,000, her workers sang James Brown's "Living in America," and the candidate appeared on the stand, handsome in a purple linen jacket, floral dress, smiling one big, wide, radiant smile, and claiming victory.
The final tally was McLean 45,849, about 49 per cent of the vote; Landers, 31,880, nearly 34 per cent; and Conaway, 16,134, a notch over 17 percent. She'd won far more easily and bigger than anyone expected.
"How many of you have seen Jackie McLean speechless?" the Second District councilwoman asked.
"Impossible," somebody yelled.
"I can just about name each and every one of you in this room," McLean said. "Many of you have been working for more than a year. Our hard work and patience paid off. Each and every one of you, I love you madly."
She thanked everyone in sight.
She seemed like everybody's favorite aunt, the rich one, the successful one, the winner. And the folks in the room clearly felt like family. Many were family. Surrounding McLean were her mother and father, sister and brother-in-law, nieces and nephews, husband and daughter and they were all laughing and cheering and joking with the audience.
"Now we've become the first female comptroller of the city of Baltimore," she said. "We are the first black comptroller of any city on the East Coast."
Coming down off the stand, she hugged and kissed and stroked and danced with and answered questions for just about everyone in the room, a couple hundred people maybe.
In November, she will face Republican Marshall W. Jones Jr., who ran unopposed.
If she wins the general election, which she is expected to do easily, she would take the job being vacated by Hyman A. Pressman, the irrepressible rhyming politician who has resigned after serving seven terms since 1963.
She'd then control the city auditors and real estate department. And she'd sit on the five-person Board of Estimates, which oversees contracts and expenditures.
"It's going to take a lot to bring it back to life," McLean said. "First of all, I'm going to go around and introduce myself and find out who works there."
"Jackie just wants to be a good comptroller," said Webster, her faithful aide.
She put together a remarkable coalition to win. Standing behind her on the victory stand was Ray Haysbert, chairman of Parks Sausage Co. and longtime associate of William L. Adams, the celebrated Westside entrepreneur sometimes known as "Little Willie."
Helping her throughout election day were American Joe Miedusiewski's Proven Democratic Team in Highlandtown, Harry McGuirk's Stonewall Democratic Club in South Baltimore, Morton Pollack's Trenton Democratic Club in Northwest Baltimore and members of the Nation of Islam on the East Side.
Just before McLean appeared at her party, Morty Pollack, the son of the now-legendary boss Jack Pollack, offered a couple of words of his father's inscrutable wisdom: "One's a majority, my late father said, and two's a helluva majority."
McLean, of course, had her own troops. And she's an aggressive campaigner in her own right. She worked all day at School 85, the Eastside polling place for the bellwether 11th precinct of the 8th Ward. She practically led voters by the hand to the booths.
A TV reporter asked her if she had any aspiration beyond the comptroller's office, such as perhaps running for mayor.
"Never thought about it," she said.
But then again she did hold her election night party at the Governor's Club.
Democratic Mary W. Conaway .. .. .. .. ..16,134 ..17.18%
Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III .31,880 ..33.96%
Jacqueline F. McLean .. .. .. 45,849 ..48.84%
Marshall W. Jones Jr. .. .. .. 3,763 ..Unopp.
Unofficial results. Votes tallied: 100%