Elton Gissendanner, New Times' favorite octogenarian ex-con running for a Florida House seat lost to Republican incumbent Denise Grimsley last night, as expected. It was a landslide: at last count, Grimsley had him beaten by more than 25,000 to his less than 12,000 votes. In a voting district in which Obama was beaten handily and only one race- for a sheriff- went blue, Gissendanner finished with the lowest vote total of any Democratic candidate. "I knew the chances of winning were zilch to nil," said Gissendanner this afternoon. "The position I was running for has been in Republican hands for 25 years. The only disappointment was finishing last in the party. I didn't think it would go quite that bad."
But Riptide didn't find him moping around his Lake Placid house. The lifelong vet was returning home from his real job: emasculating dogs and cats. "In fact, I didn't want to go to work today, because I'm sick with a cold," he says. "But with the election, I felt like I had a lot of vet work to make up. I did 23 animals today."
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"Keep breathing," Gissendanner quips when asked of his ambitions after the loss, and says he has no plans to seek office again, although with a Roger Clemens-like caveat: "Never say never."
And though he says he suspects his wife Frances was "relieved" by his loss, Elton, who turns 81 this month, maintains his Depression Era-rooted distaste for the notion of quitting work for good. "I've been delaying my retirement for about five years," he says. "And it will probably be about 20 more until I take it."
Asked for his feelings on the Obama victory, Gissendanner turns cranky: "I'm a Democrat. Do I have to explain that to you?"