You can tell a lot about a political candidate's character, not by how they win but how they react when they lose.
One of the shortest concession speeches ever was given in 1966 when Dick Tuck, a veteran political strategist, ran for the California State Senate and lost.
Paraphrasing Tuck at his press conference after the results were in, he said, "The people have spoken -- the idiots." (That's a cleaned-up version of what he really said. Tuck actually made a vulgar reference to the ancestry of those who voted against him.)
In Iowa, Congressman Dave Nagle kiddingly quoted Tuck's reaction when Nagle held a press conference after losing an election.
When Sen. John McCain lost the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008, he was asked how he was dealing with his defeat. "I sleep like a baby," said McCain. "I wake up every two hours and cry."
When Abraham Lincoln lost an election before he became president, he said he felt like someone who stubbed their toe in the dark. "I'm too old to cry, and it hurts too much to laugh," he said.
Many local candidates who lost elections have reacted with class - and I would put Max Weaver near the top of that list.
Weaver has been a boisterous and combative advocate for what he believes for more than 20 years, and he has pulled no punches in his campaigns. Yet on nights when he has lost, and there have been a few of them, he almost always has congratulated the winners, thanked those who took the time to vote and has supported the election process.
Also high on my list is Ralph Madison, now a Mason City bus driver, who is known to have an opinion or two and not been afraid to express them.
Madison ran for a Fourth Ward seat on the City Council in 2009 and lost to Janet Solberg. At the first meeting of the new council in 2010, he appeared at the public forum and admitted the election results were not what he had hoped for. But he said he wanted to come and publicly congratulate the winners and wish them well.
This year, Troy Levenhagen, the SuzieQ owner, magician and Park Board member, ran for the Second Ward council seat and lost to Will Symonds in a runoff. Troy worked hard in his campaign and could have easily felt sorry for himself in his defeat. Instead, on election night, after the results were in, Levenhagen posted on his Facebook page:
"I would like to thank my family and friends and most of all the citizens of the Second Ward of Mason City for all of their support during this campaign. I would also like to congratulate my opponent, William Symonds. We proved that you can run a campaign without being mean and cruel. This has been a real learning process and I now have a new friend in Mr. Symonds."
Troy likes to brag about his tenderloins, but he obviously also knows when to be humble.
I end this where I began: You can tell a lot about a man's character by how he loses.