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Despite a surprising second-place finish in last year’s special election for an at-large D.C. Council seat, the path to Elissa Silverman‘s victory tonight didn’t seem clear to her then. In the interim, Silverman and supporters brooded about the state of D.C. politics over what one staffer called “angsty brunches.”

“There were a lot of brunches,” added Silverman, a former Loose Lips writer for Washington City Paper and reporter for the Washington Post, who worked at the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute when she first ran for office.

There was no angst to be found tonight among the election night party attendees at Union Kitchen, though: The crowd was confident early, even before the number of precincts reporting reached double digits. Ultimately, she got 12 percent of the vote in a 15-way race, enough to finish comfortably in second place behind Democrat Anita Bonds in an election where the non-Democrat with the highest vote total also won a seat. Bonds finished with 24 percent; Silverman’s closest rivals were Michael D. Brown, at 8.1 percent, and Robert White, at 6.6 percent.

Two Silverman supporters hugged at 9:43 p.m. “We’re looking good right now!” one said.

“We’re looking really good,” his buddy replied.

Meanwhile, the candidate may not even have been the most popular Silverman in attendance. She was huddling with her staff in a room upstairs from the party when a Union Kitchen worker passed through. “I just met your parents. I love your parents!” he told her.

I, too, had just met Jack and Ruth Silverman downstairs in the crowd. Hardly a moment passed after we met before Jack put his arm around me to recount how he and his son Jonathan drove around the District posting campaign signs.

“Jonathan said, ‘It’s a once in a lifetime event,'” Jack Silverman said. “I told him, ‘Yeah, but it’s happened twice in the last year!”

A little later, Jack was telling me more about Jonathan’s signage prowess. Jonathan must have put up 90 percent of his sister’s campaign signs, Jack told me, clutching my hand. But this wasn’t just a father playing up his son’s achievements. During Silverman’s victory speech, a full-blown chant of “Jonathan” broke out among her supporters.

As it died down, someone yelled, “Sign king!”