Second place

Considering the horrific events we’ve just witnessed, News Hits is having trouble mustering its usual snide attacks this week. Like the rest of you, we’re feeling wrung out by the intense emotion of this still-unfolding tragedy.

We hope you’ll forgive us for being distracted last Wednesday when we started writing about Detroit mayoral primary winners Kwame Kilpatrick and Gil Hill.

But hey, we’re professionals, so we’ll carry on as best we can. We’ll start with an account of the victory parties held by those Detroit mayoral hopefuls who, to the surprise of no one except maybe a few of their competitors, survived the primary and will now face each other in November.

About 300 Hill supporters gathered at campaign headquarters on Fort Street, west of the downtown post office. Some played cards, others chatted and laughed, but most sat subdued, focused on a big-screen TV with reports of “America Under Attack.”

Not until the slim candidate strolled in at about 9:30 p.m. did the crowd perk up. But their excitement seemed forced as they cheered, “Gil, Gil, Gil.” He smiled, shook hands and retreated to a room where a few reporters followed.

Would he debate Kilpatrick? Would the race get nasty? Was he surprised that Kilpatrick was in the lead? Hill answered: Yes, he would; no, it would not; and “I’m going to be the next mayor.” The question he could not answer was whether the terrorist attack affected voter turnout. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m troubled by the families who’ve lost loved ones. It’s a terrible time in our country, but life goes on.”

Life did go on, but with little fanfare for the candidate who trailed by 17 percentage points. At about 10:30 p.m., Hill gave what felt like a concession speech. His troops gathered round the sad-eyed man who bowed his head and made little eye contact.

“This has been a bad day for America,” he announced, and asked for a moment of silence. He thanked his supporters and reminded them of the long race ahead. Folks applauded, then quietly exited the room as if he was already defeated.

Driving home that night, listening to news reports on the radio about the devastating attack on our country, News Hits cried, feeling defeated in the wake of a tragedy we’re all still trying to come to grips with.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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