dupont-murphyThough close, the outcome was worth a shared high-five between running mates Art Murphy, right, and Mike DuPont, with back to camera. (Click to enlarge)

The Democratic faithful who gathered in a failed West Front Street spa on election night were so subdued they might as well have had cucumber slices on their eyes.

Results from eight of Red Bank’s nine polling districts were in, and incumbent councilmen Art Murphy and Mike DuPont were trailing a pair of Republican unknowns by about 50 votes.

But former Mayor Ed McKenna was unfazed. He guesstimated that absentee ballots would break in the Democrats favor enough to put them slightly ahead, and that the tallies from the ninth — the area west of Shrewsbury Avenue and south of River Street — would ensure a comfortable win.

Well, he got the overall result correct, if not the details, if unofficial figures are reliable. They showed margins of just eight and 21 votes, respectively, for Murphy and DuPont over first-time Republican challenger Kim Senkeleski in what Mayor Pasquale Menna saw as a replay of former Gov. Jim Florio’s disastrous re-election try in 1992.

“There’s not much you can do at the bottom of the ticket when you have such an avalanche at the top,” Menna said, referring to GOP Chris Christie’s thrashing of incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine.

murphy-dupont-2Things didn’t look so rosy for Murphy, DuPont and former Mayor Ed McKenna, right, before results for the reliably Democratic ninth voting district came in.

When the results from the ninth came in, showing the Democrats had a combined 354 votes to just 95 for Senkeleski and running mate Rob Lombardi, the mood at the Democratic HQ lifted considerably. It preserved the all-Democratic governing body for another year.

But it didn’t entirely dispel the feeling that Murphy and DuPont had dodged an electoral punch — one they said was really aimed at Corzine.

“The top of the ticket — I think that had an impact on this race,” DuPont told redbankgreen. “Quite obviously, Jon Corzine did not help us at all.”

“I’m disappointed in the vote,” said McKenna, the local party head who hosted Corzine at his home this summer. “There’s a lot of angry people out there. The people I talked to who voted for Christie were really voting against Corzine.”

Menna, meanwhile, attributed the narrowness of the win to a combination of “a governor who does not have that much traction” and low voter turnout, which he estimated at about 50 percent of registered voters, compared to a normal turnout of about 65 percent.