In the half hour before the Madison mayoral primary results came in Tuesday night, Paul Soglin looked anxious. Hands jammed in pockets, mouth tense under his iconic mustache, Soglin didn't look like a man with a guaranteed spot in the primary, much less one who was about to win.
Yet 30 minutes later, amidst the classic rock and neon lighting of the Nitty Gritty, Soglin acknowledged his victory to a bevy of flashing cameras and a crowd of cheering supporters.
"Thank you to the people who voted. Thank you to the people who did all this hard work," Soglin said. "This is obviously a much better finish than we expected."
Barry Orton, editor of Soglin's blog, was more decisive.
"It's an upset!" Ortorn crowed. "… to beat an incumbent in a month and a-half? It's an upset."
Winning close to 50 percent of Tuesday's votes for a narrow win over incumbent Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, "upset" may be the best word for two-tme former mayor who, nevertheless, has only been campaigning since Christmas.
"We're clearly going to try to build on this momentum," Soglin campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said. "There's been enormous energy and enthusiasm about Paul's candidacy. There's a tremendous amount of support for the kind of vision and leadership he offers, and we're looking forward to being able to talk about both what he's accomplished in the past and his vision for the future over the next six weeks."
Although widely considered the favorite to win in the primary, Mayor Dave came in second with 47 percent of the vote.
Mulliken promised hard work in the coming weeks.
"This is an important race," she said. "There are important issues at stake."
As Soglin acknowledged, prominent among these issues is Gov. Scott Walker's recently announced Budget Repair Bill, and its implications for public employees.
"The challenge has been made more complicated by the announcement by Governor Walker," Soglin said. "The impact on all of Madison, whether we're talking public employees or not, is very significant."
Soglin, who was spotted at a Capitol protest Tuesday, said he was committed to addressing the concerns of his constituents.
"We don't yet know what's going to happen to public employees, and we don't know what's going to happen in regards to shared revenues," Soglin said. "In addition, there's some modifications I know we can make to the city budget. It will be necessary to take all these varied elements and bring them together, and then make recommendations."
According to Mulliken, when it comes to dealing with issues like these, Soglin's past record will help differentiate him from Cieslewicz.
"I think voters will have a clear choice," she said. "I think Paul's record of being able to get big, complicated things done, the caring he has for people, and his vision for how to make the economic engine in Madison pull all of us forward… I think these are the kind of issues we're gonna be talking about talk about; these are the issues people care about."
In the next several weeks, the Soglin campaign will continue its endeavor to stand apart from Cieslewicz by focusing on several key city issues, including drinking water, childhood poverty and "problems making complicated decisions."
"What I'm hearing is that the voters want a mayor who can handle these difficult matters and do it in a process that engages everybody," said Soglin. "We're not going to be able to give everyone their first choice in any solution, but by bringing those interests together, we will get the best solution. And that's the job of the mayor."
Soglin will see if he gets to do that job after the general election April 5.