Michaela Quinlan of Burlington cheered as she watched Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) give his victory speech on national TV Tuesday night from a table at Finnigan’s Pub in downtown Burlington.
“I'm just so excited,” Quinlan said. Quinlan even contributed $100 to Sanders’ presidential campaign via phone as he spoke just after 9:30 p.m.
To Quinlan, it wasn’t just another candidate up on the stage. It was Sanders, stepfather of her longtime friends, who were on stage with him. “I texted them to say, ‘We’re watching from Finnigan’s,'” she said.
Many of the two dozen Sanders supporters who gathered at Finnigan’s on Tuesday night knew the man on the stage, and most admitted to being at least a little surprised that the former Burlington mayor had just won the nation’s first presidential primary race by such a large margin over former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
They had figured he was probably going to win New Hampshire, but the question was by how much. So they barely paid attention — no whoops, no cheers — as CNN declared Sanders the winner at 8 p.m.
Someone nudged Emilie Krasnow of Charlotte and asked if she’d seen the email from Sanders’ campaign. “We just won New Hampshire,” the email declared. Krasnow smiled.
“This is exciting,” said Charles Winkleman, the 26-year-old Burlington Progressive Party chair.
Winkleman said he works at Burlington Children’s Space and feels a connection to Sanders, who started the center. He said he hoped Sanders would win by at least 15 percent, so pundits can’t suggest that rival Democrat Hillary Clinton did better than expected.
The supporters chatted quietly as results were reported on TV screens overhead. Then Sanders took the stage. When he thanked his New Hampshire campaign manager, Julia Barnes, the cheers went up for the former executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party.
Guthrie Smith, of Huntington, said she cleared the grime off her car to make sure her Bernie Sanders bumper sticker showed Tuesday. Smith insisted she was not surprised by Sanders’ success in the race. “Once he declared,” she said, “I felt like, ‘It’s Bernie, he’s going somewhere.’”