I was stationed at Mike Michaud’s HQ in Portland on election night with my colleague Chris Cousins, an old friend and BDN political reporter. I’ve covered many election nights before. Mostly, it’s a lot of waiting. This time was no exception. Supporters milled around, anticipating the Mike’s appearance. Candidates usually only come out of seclusion to claim victory or concede defeat.
I sat down at my laptop to file early pictures of the scene just after the polls closed. I wasn’t worried about missing Mike because stagehands at the Port City Music Hall had a hung a movie screen in front of the podium and were projecting a TV broadcast. I’d have plenty or warning of Mike’s arrival because the’d have to drag the ladder back out and unhook the screen from the rafters first.
I had that in mind again when it was all over. Mike conceded. I shot pictures. I sat down to upload the images to my hungry editors in Bangor. But I kept the corner of my eye on the stage. I thought there was a chance the same stagehands would come out with their ladder and take down the big “I Like Mike” sign behind the podium.
I thought it’d make a good statement of the election night results, something T.S. Elliot or Earnest Hemingway would call an “objective correlative.” That is, something concrete, like workmen taking down a sign, that stands in for an emotion.
You see, Mike Michaud is pretty stoic and so were most of his supporters that night. Nobody cried or wailed or carried on. My pictures lacked clear, storytelling emotion. So, when I saw the ladder go up next to the sign, I grabbed my camera and made some pictures. I didn’t know the sign was made of two pieces until they split it in half and carried one away.
That was just luck.
– Troy R. Bennett