Landslide 2002

What we saw on election night

Photo by James Bunoan5:09 P.M. KFI talk-show hosts John and Ken admit they'd say "anything" to help defeat Governor Gray Davis. 5:15 John and Ken rant about the liberal media "shamelessly" aiding Davis and that nobody helps Simon. 5:25 Dave, a rugged fellow with an "I voted" decal, shops at the Camp in Costa Mesa and notes that environmental issues are important. "I want to make sure that no one tells me where I can and can't go," he says. "The environment is there for us to enjoy." 8:26 Nobody is at Recall Nativo Lopez campaign HQ; a nearby Latina waiting for a bus says Lopez "is the best thing to have ever happened to Santa Ana." 8:27 On KABC's Al Rantel Show, Republican commentators warn citizens that Davis' secret "campus empire" within the University of California system threatens the state. 8:52 At OC Republican Party HQ in the Sutton Place Hotel, little girls in cute outfits dance to what sounds like German music. Party boss Tom Fuentes smiles. 8:53 Congressman Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) takes one simple question from a Time Warner Cable reporter. Four minutes later, he's still talking enthusiastically about the intricacies of federal funding. Reporters' eyelids look heavy. 8:54 Inside the Disneyland Hotel, State Senator Joe Dunn and remnants of OC Dems celebrate. The song "Following the leader, the leader, the leader. . . . Off to fight the Injuns, the Injuns, the Injuns" plays in a nearby restroom. 8:55 At Simon HQ in LA, Orange County Register editorial writer Alan Bock bitches that booze should be free at political events. 8:58 Newport Beach Congressman Chris Cox—wearing what looks to be the same blue suit he has worn on four previous election nights and surrounded by five eager-eyed boys—talks to former USC football star Anthony Davis about the pleasures of Republican domination. 8:59 Linda Sanchez arrives at the Sanchez Sisters party in Lakewood without fanfare. 9:00 At KOCE, the Huntington Beach-based public-TV station, commentators draw important-sounding conclusions from preliminary election returns. All we want to know is: Who knitted Jo Ellen Allen's American-flag sweater? 9:04 On KOCE, Fuentes refers to himself as a "Latino" and a "conservative" and a "conservative Republican." 9:05 Fuentes sums up the message of Landslide 2002: backroom deals in Sacramento have produced lopsided victories for both major parties. "They know which districts are theirs," says the county GOP chairman, "and we know which are ours." One KOCE on-air panelist decides democracy is dead. 9:07 A loud cell phone interrupts a beautiful Vietnamese woman as she sings the National Anthem for county Republicans. There are tears in Fuentes' eyes. 9:11 A smiling Royce tells the same crowd that voter turnout in San Francisco is low. Much cheering ensues. 9:18 At KOCE, Republican Jo Ellen Allen claims, "Republicans don't endorse candidates in nonpartisan races," such as those for city council. Moments later, the Lincoln Club's Mike Capaldi says his group's Republican candidates are winning big in nonpartisan city council races. Capaldi sadly notes the success of Irvine Democrat Larry Agran. 9:20 Congressman Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar) tells GOP loyalists in Newport Beach that drilling in Alaska would improve the environment. Says environmentalists are "ridiculous" and "ruining" the country. 9:21 CNN shows Simon leading Davis by three percentage points. "What the hell was that!?" says Glen Nolte, a stunned pipe-fitters organizer at the Disneyland Hotel. "I might have to leave early tonight because I'll be in a bad fury." 9:22 USC's Davis delights the ivory-white GOP crowd by telling them he's a black man who is a "devoted Republican." Then he says, "Black brothers, this is the party of the future!" 9:23 Introduced by Fuentes as "the surfing congressman," Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) tells the crowd he went surfing early in the day. Audience members yawn. 9:24 Rohrabacher rides metaphor: "Republicans are riding a wave that is going to sweep America!" 9:25 Rohrabacher declares the nation tired of "mamsy-pamsy liberals wrecking America." 9:26 Pounding his fist on the podium, Rohrabacher says, "George Bush and the Republican Party are what's going to make this a safe America! We are on the offensive! We are going to retake California for America!" 9:28 OC state Senator Dick Ackerman—trounced by Democrat Bill Lockyer in their race for attorney general—says the county "has taken the lead in California" politics and notes that San Francisco turnout was low. Cheering ensues. 9:30 Ken Maddox, Republican state assemblyman from Garden Grove, tells the crowd, "Democrat keisters are getting kicked up and down California." He thanks God that SF turnout was low. Cheering ensues. 9:32 OC's newest assemblyman, Todd Spitzer, underestimates the power of his microphone and screams, "This nation is excited! We're going to take back the state!" Nine hundred crones in red St. John Knits hit mute on their hearing aids. 9:35 While Republicans celebrate low-voter turnout in Democratic precincts and GOP gains in Congress, Democratic victors in Anaheim talk health care, worker rights, public educcation and the environment. 9:38 Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez enters the Democrats' party ballroom alone through a side door. Only a handful of people sitting nearby see her and applaud. 9:39 Sucking his teeth, Cox tells Republicans, "It feels like 1994 all over again! I cannot tell you how happy I am! Not since Ronald Reagan has it been so good for Republicans in Orange County!" 9:40 Early returns suggest—and final results will show—California Republicans losing every statewide office. 9:44 To cheers from a couple of hundred Dems, Sanchez does the math and says, "Lou [Correa]'s up, Joe's up, I'm up, so we're all up! 9:45 Seven minutes after entering, Sanchez leaves the Democrats for her own party in Lakewood. 9:48 Red-faced, fidgeting nervously with his wristwatch, mouth breathing, Jim Silva takes the stage and—without note cards—repeats a simple line used by four previous speakers: "OC is going to turn California into a Republican state!" 9:50 Supervisor-elect Chris Norby loses his voice screaming, "Money can't buy Gray Davis love." Exits GOP stage coughing. 10:06 Loretta Sanchez dances into the Sanchez Sisters party to the blare of a Shaggy song, the glare of TV lights and a huge roar of applause. She looks fabulous in a tight, red-knit suit. Everyone is happy as long as she does not speak. 10:44 When a Spanish-language TV reporter asks Loretta Sanchez for the advice she'll give Linda as the two head to Washington, Loretta replies in mangled Spanish, "Buscar para una apartamento." 11:01 At KOCE again, a repetitive Valley Forge anthem atop which drift almost meaningless returns, one KOCE commentator, wearing a Ralph Lauren suit (Marshall's, $149), briefly considers an obviously over-the-top wish of a life without functional eyes and ears. In the electoral land of the blind and deaf, the one-eyed/one-eared man is tortured. 11:08 KCAL's Pat Harvey marvels that, despite a strong Republican showing throughout the rest of the country, Californians appear to have given Democrats a clean sweep of state offices. "It's like we're all alone out here," she says. 11:22 A KOCE news reporter profiles an OC company handing out apple pies on Election Day as a reward for voters. The nation's future, global terrorism, the Homeland Security clampdown, the jacked-up economy, public education—every major issue hinges on voters motivated by the promise of free pie. 11:23 Closeup of pie as reporter alludes to inherent Americanness of apple pie. 11:24 Pie-story reporter says voters who collect apple pies in exchange for proof they participated in electoral democracy can now "enjoy the fruits of their labor." 11:25 Pie-story reporter says getting the pie in exchange for proof you voted is "easy as pie."

Compiled by Gustavo Arellano, Steve Lowery, R. Scott Moxley, Anthony Pignataro, Rebecca Schoenkopf, Nick Schou, Will Swaim and Dave Wielenga.
 
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