MIDDLETOWN — Victors in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election took a pause a day after winning their bids to vie for public office in November.

Wesleyan University graduate and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy aide Ben Florsheim was the winner in the four-way primary in the mayoral race, over fellow Democrats: Public Works Director Bill Russo, Common Council Deputy Majority Leader Mary Bartolotta and Parking Director Geen Thazhampallath.

Florsheim, who will face off against Republican Common Council Minority Leader Sebastian N. Giuliano in the general election Nov. 5, garnered 1,359 votes to Russo’s 1,181 votes, Bartolotta’s 926 and Thazhampallath’s 602.

“It’s incredibly humbling and gratifying,” Florsheim said as he waited for the 200 or so absentee ballots to be counted. “If we lost, it wouldn’t have been because we did anything wrong. We ran the best campaign we could have run.

“I think the message we ran with — we framed it around issues like public education, Main Street, transportation, but it was about [people wanting change], and knowing that it’s possible, and it can happen right here. It’s an abstract idea that can be made real locally,” Florsheim said of his grassroots effort.

He acknowledged the real fight is ahead, with less than two months to Election Day.

Russo bypassed the DTC nomination process and went directly to the voters, eventually gathering enough signatures to qualify for the primary.

He ran with an alternate slate: For All Middletown. Meghan Carta (with 1,695 votes) was the only FAM council candidate who will be on the November ballot.

DTC candidate Eugene Nocera was by far the top vote getter, with 2,292. Jeanette White received the second highest, with 2,069.

At Wednesday morning’s Sept. 11 service at Veterans Memorial Park, Nocera said he was taking a much-needed breather from the campaign trail.

Five others will vie against Republicans on Election Day: Common Councilman Grady Faulkner (1,913 votes) Darnell Ford (1,871), Ed McKeon (1,833), Bobbye Knoll Peterson and (1,681) former councilman Vinnie Loffredo (2,051).

As returns from the city’s nine precincts rolled into the Democratic Town Committee camp on Court Street, Chairman Robert Blanchard entered results into a spreadsheet projected onto a wall, where party-endorsed candidates watched in hushed tones, huddled in groups.

As tallies from the final two voting districts were known, Peterson, vice president of the DTC, and former Board of Education member Ed McKeon, became animated as their colleagues congratulated them.

DTC-backed candidates Steven Kovach clinched the treasurer’s nomination, and planning and zoning candidates Beth Emery, Catherine Johnson, Thom Pattavina and Richard Pelletier were also winners, beating out Kellin Atherton, who had launched his own petition drive to be on the primary ballot.

In his last filing, Florsheim drew upon his personal savings to “lend money to himself,” something he feels lucky to have been able to do.

“It’s unfortunate local races are getting very expensive. The way politics is going, there’s a retrenchment of interest in what’s happening on the local level. Big money is being spent by the state and much more at the federal level,” he said. “We helped break that cycle a little bit here. I had to do it in an unconventional way.”

Florsheim hopes he can use his case to begin a conversation statewide about funding elections.

After speaking, Florsheim was swept away by fellow candidates and supporters to Perkatory Coffee Roasters for a celebration.

Just over a block away, the FAM camp was watching returns at the Cantina restaurant. The mood there was an increasingly sobering one, as Russo, who got the second highest number of votes, watched the results being marked on several large poster boards from his spot near the back.

As it became apparent the team had almost entirely lost, Common Councilman Gerry Daley, who lost his bid for the endorsement, spoke in support of the group’s efforts.

“He has three qualities the others didn’t have. That’s still true: experience, authenticity most of all — he’s the real deal — and steady leadership. Billy did this for the right reasons, because he cares about Middletown. He has no political ambitions, unlike the others. We all should applaud him for that,” Daley said.

“I gave it a good try. If you see [the winners], shake their hand, congratulate them, and be gentlemen about it,” Russo told those gathered at about 9:05 p.m.

“Get ‘em next time,” a supporter told Russo.

Meanwhile, across town, Bartolotta fought back tears as she thanked those around her for all their efforts.

“You should be very proud that you ran a clean campaign” and did not descend into the negativity of other, unnamed candidates, she said. “I’m proud that even though that meant we couldn’t win, that we set an example to the citizens of Middletown.”

Thazhampallath learned the results from home Tuesday night. “On a personal level, I’m disappointed, but I’m not sad because of how we ran this campaign. Tomorrow is the beginning of another phase in my life,” he said.

Peterson and McKeon were clearly relieved at their success.

“I feel excellent. In order for us to move forward in a positive way, we need a mayor who’s going to take us there,” said Peterson, whose day was roller coaster. “I was super confident from 10 to noon, and then a little nervous from noon to 2, then confident again from 2 to 4. Six to eight was rough, because you never really know how it’s going to go,” she admitted.

“It’s ‘over-ish,’ ” she said.

McKeon was elated at his win. “The voters of Middletown have said they want a change in town, and elected the slate that’s going to make a change.”

Reports by Jeff Mill contributed to this story.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that council candidate Jeanette White earned the second highest number of votes for common council on the DTC-endorsed slate, not Vinnie Loffredo. He was third.