TRUMBULL — Like everything else, political campaigns had to adjust their tactics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Gone were things like traditional door-to-door campaigning, fundraising dinners and other gatherings. But one campaign tradition was missed more than any other this year: The Election Night results party.

“It’s a shame, because you really want to do something to thank your volunteers for all the work they did to help you,” said David Rutigliano, R-123rd District. “We had been talking about, ‘What should we do?’ but we just never made a decision, and then the state went back (to Phase 2 restaurant opening rules) and it just didn’t seem like a good idea.”

Rutigliano was one of the four candidates for General Assembly in Trumbull that ended with a nail-biting wait for vote tallies. He and fellow incumbent Republican Laura Devlin, R-134th District, respectively won tight races against Democrats Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox and Carla Volpe, respectively. Of the four, only Devlin was up for socializing after a long campaign and a 14-hour stint greeting voters at the polls.

“We were at a (Fairfield) restaurant, just me and my family and a few campaign workers at a time,” she said. “We had to stay under capacity, so there were never more than 10 or 12 people.”

The group ate their meals and sipped their drinks, while checking their phones as they waited for results.

Rutigliano did pretty much the same thing from his house.

“I was standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter when I found out I had won,” he said.

While winning an election is always a good feeling, Rutigliano said, receiving the news without a crowd of cheering supporters was a bit surreal, he said. The nature of the win, taking a big lead on Election Day votes only to see Gadkar-Wilcox mount a comeback as the 5,100 absentee votes in the district were counted, added to the novelty factor, he said.

“We knew there were a lot of absentee ballots, and we knew they would probably tilt toward the Democrats,” he said. “But I was comfortably ahead, 1,650 votes, and then you wait an hour and a half for the absentee numbers, and when they came it it was like, ‘Oh my God,’” he said.

Rutigliano ended up winning his race by about 250 votes.

If the Republicans missed celebrating with supporters, the two Democratic candidates did their best to recreate the atmosphere of a campaign party electronically via a series of Zoom meetings.

“At least we could all see each other and commiserate together,” Gadkar-Wilcox said.

Volpe, who spent election night on the couch with her husband, got to be part of a virtual victory party. She was on Democrat Jennifer Leeper’s Zoom call when Leeper found out she had won the 132nd District race by about 300 votes.

“So I still got to cheer and congratulate her,” she said.

Gadkar-Wilcox said she had scheduled a wrap-up Zoom call with her supporters for Thursday, after fatigue, discouraging early returns and the long wait for absentee ballot results had sapped most of the life from her election night Zoom.

“After a long campaign, people need a day to regroup,” she said. “And right now, all I want to do is let them know how much I am inspired by their effort and support.”