"Apoplectic," a city council staffer told an inside source when describing the atmosphere this evening inside many council offices after news broke that socialist Kshama Sawant has taken a narrow lead over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin. Conlin losing would not only unravel a knot of plans for the new year, Sawant's victory would add some unpredictability to City Hall.

Council members had already jockeyed close to their committee chairmanships for 2014, but with Conlin possibly leaving the land-use committee, another member would take those reins (and the council is highly unlikely to toss Sawant into the arcane world of zoning in her freshman year). That would lead to Machiavellian jostling for their dream committees all over again. Next, there's a thorny question of who will be council president. Everyone had assumed it would be Tim Burgess. Now it's uncertain if he can get wrangle the votes. And finally, they wonder what Sawant will do if she actually disrupts their orderly universe, in which consensus has been a religion. They're afraid she'll be like a mountain lion set loose in a grocery store.