Just ten minutes after polls closed Tuesday, a cheer went up around the Talula bar on Madison's east side: "61-39! Joe's ahead!"
An hour-and a-half later, Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Joe Parisi mounted the stage at the east-side restaurant Talula to thank his supporters and announce his victory in the race for Dane County Executive. "It looks like I've got a new job," he joked.
Parisi took the race by a 70 percent over Dane County Board Member Brusketwiz.
"Tonight voters from across Dane County… sent a clear message," said Parisi. "We don't do things the Scott Walker way in Dane County. We do things the Dane County way!"
Parisi took the opportunity to extend thanks to his family, his staff and to former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk "for laying a strong foundation."
He also touched on the ongoing showdown at the Capitol, asking to laughs and boos, "Who would have known that the day after the primaries, someone was gonna introduce a little thing called the 'budget repair bill?'"
After the introduction of the infamous bill, many saw Parisi's win as a foregone conclusion.
"In the primary we did have such broad support," admitted campaign manager Casey Slaughterbecker, "but we took nothing for granted."
Parisi supporters packed the brightly colored restaurant, but conversation centered on the tight Prosser-Kloppenburg race. The big win in the county race seemed to buoy hopes in what many saw as a strike against Gov. Scott Walker.
"I'm here because I support Joe Parisi... he's going to be a great county executive for the exact same reason that it's critical to have guys like him on the fight against the Walker agenda," declared UW-Madison's Teaching Assistants Association organizer Peter Rickman.
He said local politicians like the county executive influence key public policy issues, like public transit and sustainable community development, that directly effect working class people.
"He's a strong, progressive leader who will understand that we actually do need to have politicians we care about and who will fight for working folks," said Rickman. "I think he's going to do a great job putting forward a sort of alternative vision of what politics and public policy can be like."
To Dane County Board member Bruskewitz, who received 51,143 votes to Parisi's 120,255, there was one big reason for that outcome.
"This election really wasn't about a county executive race," said Bruskewitz. "It was about a strike back at Walker." She noted that her campaign messages of increasing fiscal responsibility and creating jobs remain important, and that she is wiling to work with Parisi.