By 8:30 last night, the subdued gathering in the West Palm Beach Marriott conference room had the feel of an awkward bar mitzvah. Heavy chandeliers cast a dim glow on the gaudy pink-and-green carpet. In a far corner, the DJ was spinning Sade-style mood music.
Hardly anyone touched the small table of food, and the bartenders were uncomfortably idle. There seemed to be more TV cameras and reporters than Jeff Greene campaign supporters -- at least, in terms of nervous enthusiasm, the press corps won out.
About two dozen people showed up to support the candidate. An elderly woman in a straw hat sat next to a lady with a walker. A handful of self-consciously stylish yuppies -- girls in black
There were no boob shots, no Mike Tyson, no blowjobs. The only character who gave a whiff of Greene's hard-partying yacht days
was an extraordinarily tall woman with Elvira hair and a dress that barely covered her modesty.
When CNN projected Greene's loss to Kendrick Meek, the news unfolded heartlessly on large projection screens in the ballroom. Immediately, the press corps swarmed a tiny, white-haired lady who turned out to be Greene's mother. After that, wine glasses began to appear in the hands of campaign workers.
When Greene himself finally arrived, there wasn't much left to say. The Palm Beach billionaire played the part of proud daddy, noting that his 10-month old son, Malcolm (yes, Greene is 55 with a baby) walked across the room for the first time yesterday. So instead of running for U.S. Senate, Greene will now be a family man.
"I think I'm gonna be losing some of my pregnancy weight soon, chasing Malcolm around the house," Greene joked, patting his stomach flab.
And then it was over. Greene kissed his model-slim wife on the lips and began making the rounds to shake hands and pose for the cameras.
Surprising no one, he refused to rule out another run for political office.
By 9:20 p.m., he was gone. His supporters were left to pose for pictures in front of now outdated campaign signs, grinning and flirting for the camera. With $23 million of Greene's dough down the drain, it was the least they could do.