There was plenty of good news last night for Democrats at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz. Photo by Chip Scheuer.
Election night in Santa Cruz County this year was nothing like the scene in 2008—no celebrations in the streets, no climbing on cars, and a foggy stillness had set into downtown Santa Cruz by the time newly re-elected President Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech. But Democrats and Republicans did gather last night around the county to watch the results:
Santa Cruz County Republicans: Seascape Golf Club, Aptos
The Republicans held their shindig at the Seascape Golf Club, in a room filled with paper elephants hanging from red streamers and peppermint patties. A crowd of people huddled together to watch Fox News on a television next to a red white and blue nutcracker figurine. School board member Vic Marani, Scotts Valley councilmember Jim Reed and local Republican Party chair Gene Scotthorn were all in attendance.
“What would make Mr. Obama most afraid?” joked 85-year-old attendee Allan Ware, before the presidential race was decided. “That he would have to move back to Chicago!”
Ware, a WWII veteran, said he came to this party to partake in the political discussion. “You hear people talking about their hopes and dreams,” Ware said. “We hope Mitt will win. I think it’s going to be awful damn close.”
Tom Walsh was also there, pretending not to know with Mark Stone, his opponent in the State Senate.
“Who’s Mr. Stone? He’s another imposter!” Walsh deadpanned, before taking a moment to reflect on his candidacy within a Democrat-dominated county. “With 23 percent of the electorate being republican if I can get above the 23 percent, I feel I’ve won.”
By the end of the night, Walsh had 26 percent of the vote.
Santa Cruz County Democrats: Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz
Inside a cavernous banquet room at Hotel Paradox on Ocean Street, a large TV broadcast national election results from channel 8 on one side of the room, while the other featured a simple dry-erase board showing the results from the local city council, fifth district supervisor, and county ballot measure votes.
As can be expected, the candidates in attendance—Don Lane, Richelle Noroyan, Cynthia Matthews and Eric Hammer—gathered around the white boards. Most of the rest of the crowd watched the TV screen and cheered as states fell to Obama.
“Have you been just glued to NPR all day?!” one attendee asked.
Introduced for his speech as he lagged only a hundred or so votes behind Bruce McPherson, his opponent for supervisor in the Fifth District, Eric Hammer thanked all the people who contributed to his grassroots campaign. Across the room, a twenty-something in a purple halter top stood on a chair and led a fist-pumping chant about Obama, shouting over him.
As Obama was declared the winner, an attendee named Randall said he suspected the Romney camp would not go down “without a fight” and expected lawsuits to come up in the morning, but by the concession speech shortly after, it was clear that would not be the case.
By that time, the house rock band was jamming so hard the hundreds of partygoers had to collectively shush them, almost bum-rushing the stage as the group’s attempt at a show-stopping ending threatened to spill over into the beginning of Romney’s speech.
Measure P Party, De Anza Mobile Home Park, Santa Cruz:
There was one sure place to see a higher per capita rate of beanies, berets and political t-shirts with things like “End Corporate Personhood” on them: the joint election party held for Santa Cruz City Council candidate Micah Posner and victorious anti-desal Measure P at the De Anza mobile home park in Westside Santa Cruz.
In a jam session sing-along, Desal Alternatives’ Rick Longinotti played banjo and Transition Santa Cruz’s Michael Levy played melodica as the crowd chimed in singing, “This Rain is Our Rain (This Sea is Our Sea).” Jozseph Schultz of India Joze came cater the event in his trademark black leather jacket and matching hat.
Posner, former director of People Power, trembled as he borrowed someone’s iPhone to check his standing in a city council race with four open seats. He was in fourth in the race, behind Pamela Comstock of Take Back Santa Cruz and ahead of Richelle Noroyan of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party.
Longinotti thinks Measure P passing by 71 percent will make a clear statement to the council that Santa Cruz doesn’t want a desal plant. “This changes everything, because city council will know they can’t win a vote on desalination,” Longinotti said.
CeCe Pinheiro’s Party, Tampico Kitchen, Santa Cruz
That was a huge contrast to the mood at City Council candidate CeCe Pinheiro’s party. It was a low-key affair, though not sad—just calm. She and her friends watched Community Television, enjoyed nachos and pitchers of soda pop, and followed the national election results on their iPhones, sharing updates. As Pinheiro is an avid supporter of the GLBT community, her party attendees were happy to share the news from Maryland and Maine that gay marriage was legalized.
Despite the fact that only absentee ballots were counted around 9pm, Pinheiro felt pretty certain she hadn’t won a city council seat (she didn’t) and noted that she set up meetings for tomorrow with Santa Cruz politicians who ran both winning and losing city council campaigns in the past, so it looks likely that she will try again in the future.
Disappointed with the Santa Cruz County Progressive Coalition’s endorsements of only Don Lane and Micah Posner and no female candidates, Pinheiro commented, “There’s nothing progressive about that. They oughta change their name to the Old White Man’s Club."