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Carol Schwartz is the happiest woman in D.C. on election night.

She bursts into her party at the Masonic Temple an hour late in a leopard print jersey dress to the sounds of a tambourine, banged by a gentleman in carpenter jeans, a triumphant smile stretch across her face. It’s as if she has never heard the name Muriel Bowser or seen any vote counts from the day, which has her a distant third in the mayor’s race.

The scene at the party might be charitably described as low-key; a sharper observer might call the gathering of a few dozen folks scattered across the room, quietly munching on potato chips and M&Ms off paper plates on paper tablecloths, a total dud. But Schwartz brings a wave of energy to the modest affair as she floats from friend to friend, dropping kisses on cheeks, and within minutes a small circle of supporters are on the dance floor. DJ Lady Smooth, handpicked by Schwartz to DJ the event, spins “Simply the Best,” and the candidate moves to the center of the circle.

Schwartz, who says she will speak to me only briefly because she wants to party, declares that she had a wonderful election day and that the weather was gorgeous. She calls the results of the election disappointing but raves about her supporters. “Listen, God bless them,” Schwartz says. “I was a late entry. I had a shoestring budget. They were volunteers, not paid workers. I’ll always be grateful to them.”

Schwartz doesn’t have many words about her opponents or the race. “I got kind of caught between the Hatfields and the McCoys,” she says.

The party appears to be picking up. The tambourine player has taken up permanent residence on the dance floor, doing a solo interpretation of “The Cupid Shuffle.” Schwartz poses for photos at the bar while her very enthusiastic supporters approach me to express their support for their candidate. (And to comment on the high price of drinks at the cash bar. At $10 for a bourbon and Diet Coke, “these are not happy hour prices,” one man notes sadly.)

“She’s a very spiritual leader as well as a political one,” says one 37-year-old Bloomingdale resident, who declines to be named. “I was just overwhelmed with her knowledge.” Another praises her support for affordable housing and her “longevity,” adding that he’s “kept an eye on her the last 10, 15 years.”

By 10:30, supporters are slipping out, and the party appears to be in a decrescendo. Regardless, Schwartz grooves to Chuck Brown, still light on her two-tone T-strap heels after a full day of campaigning. Carol Schwartz is at least the third-best dancer in the room, and she is the happiest woman in D.C.

Photo by Jenny Rogers