A Night to Dismember the Democrats
Tuesday’s nationwide tidal wave of Republican victories inspired a tidal wave of metaphors about tidal waves. From their various perches around Orange County, the Weekly’s election-night bloggers ended up with a pretty good view of the races where the Dems’ dinghies didn’t get swamped—most notably Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s hard-fought win over Van Tran. Here are scenes from a county in a state that didn’t quite get tsunami’d.
7:46 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Irvine: Joseph Kung, state co-chairman for Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign loves to come to Orange County GOP events wearing campaign stickers all over his body and screaming. He’s been doing this stunt for years, and Tuesday’s gathering of Republicans at the Irvine Hyatt was no exception.
“Caaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrlllllllllyyyyyyyyyy,” yells Kung, who is wearing about a dozen Whitman and “Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate” stickers on his body.
He performed on cue for several Los Angeles television-news reporters who wanted a noisy backdrop—even though the grand ballroom was relatively empty at the time. (R. Scott Moxley)
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8:35 p.m., On the Phone: It’s been just more than 30 minutes since the polls closed, and it looks like Proposition 19 is going down in flames. The results being shown on KCAL-9 are 55 percent no and 45 percent yes. OCNORML’s Kandice Hawes, one of the county’s biggest legalization advocates, reached at the LA law offices of Bruce Margolin, acknowledges that things aren’t looking good.
“Kind of disappointing,” she says. “I think a lot of people still have fears about it and are waiting for the perfect bill. It’s a big bummer because it would have been a really big message to the rest of the country. We had chapters from all over the U.S. making calls for us.” (Nick Schou)
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9:37 p.m., Downtown Santa Ana: Dozens of people, if not a good hundred, stand inside and outside Librería Martinez on Broadway in the SanTana Artists Village, the campaign headquarters of mayoral candidate Alfredo Amezcua. A mariachi blares. Amezcua is inside with his family, shaking the hands of supporters. He is always enthusiastic and maintains he will pull off a colossal upset and defeat SanTana Mayor-for-Life Miguel “Don Papi” Pulido.
Right now, Don Papi is destroying Amezcua—he has 55 percent to Amezcua’s low 20s. But optimism reigns. The mariachi plays “Solamente Una Vez,” the Agustín Lara torch song. “Only once I’ve loved in life,” a woman sings. “Only once, and never more.” (Gustavo Arellano)
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9:52 p.m., Crystal Jade Restaurant, Irvine: Hanging with the Irvine Democrats at an upscale Chinese restaurant in a strip mall (so Irvine), City Councilman Larry Agran announces, “There is no way that Sukhee Kang will not be our re-elected mayor.” Applause and wooos.
Agran’s granddaughter takes the mic and adds, “The reason we’re behind is because most of the registered voters are Republican. I think we will catch up!” Laughs and cheers.
Agran adds, “Don’t you think we should lower the voting age to 8?” (Michelle Woo)
* * *
9:55 p.m., Downtown Santa Ana: Memphis is slammed with young Dems, who are all slamming shots. “To democracy!” some toast. They all love Loretta Sanchez, but she currently has a less-than-100-vote lead over opponent Van Tran.
“We’re all worried,” one confides, even after slamming some Sweet Harmonies, a concoction of peach schnapps and other insanity. “Even today, the top advisers were worried. We hope she wins . . . but it’s not looking good.” The latest results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters are in: Loretta has widened her lead. “Still too close, man,” he mumbles before running off to a celebration. (GA)
* * *
10:19 p.m., Downtown Santa Ana: Overheard at Memphis, where about a dozen Don Papi Pulido supporters crowded the bar.
“FUCK THE HATERS!”
“ONE, TWO, THREE: PU-LI-DO!”
They’re so loud a Democratic Party activist comes to me and apologizes on their behalf. Are you kidding me, sister? This is GOLD! (GA)
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10:45 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Irvine: This GOP crowd is too busy drinking and chatting to listen to any of the speakers. But then Irvine’s Damon Dunn, the Secretary of State candidate, begins his speech and the room goes silent for him. Dunn delights everyone when he says liberals rely on “The government. The government. The government.” In contrast, he says, Republicans believe in “the individual . . . and we just happen to be right!” (RSM)
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11:06 p.m., Downtown Santa Ana: About an hour ago, Sanchez took to a Santa Ana-owned stage festooned with posters with her name and Pulido’s. Hundreds cheered the two on, as Sanchez said her battle against Van Tran wasn’t over yet.
Right now, a competing mariachi is onstage, and drunken Loretta supporters are carrying on as if they were at a quinceañera. Sanchez is pulling ahead.
Let’s see if she can keep the lead. Oh, and Don Papi destroyed Amezcua. (GA)
* * *
11:10 p.m., On the Internets: The Orange County Register now reports U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has rebuilt a “narrow lead” over Fiorina. The Washington Post has joined all the other major news agencies calling the race for Democrat Boxer (as well as Jerry Brown over Whitman for governor). (Matt Coker)
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11:15 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Irvine: California Republicans have been their own worst enemies when it comes to driving potential Latino voters away, and they didn’t help themselves again tonight. Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado—the highest-ranking Latino candidate in the state (running against Gavin Newsom to retain his office)—walks onto the stage with his family and is loudly booed. Not just once or twice, but three times. I guess Maldonado shouldn’t have cast that deciding vote to pass a Democratic budget. (RSM)
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11:30 p.m. Hyatt Regency, Irvine: At a point when her votes are nearly tied with Boxer’s, challenger Fiorina takes the stage to ridicule “all those people who declared this race over” as soon as the polls closed. Fiorina describes herself as “tireless, fearless” and says it’s “not a smart thing to” underestimate her campaign. She then tells her supporters to prepare for a long night. “We may not know for many, many hours” she says. Many of her supporters, holding cocktails, seem okay with the idea. As she leaves the stage, the band plays “The Heat Is On” from the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop. (RSM)
* * *
1 a.m., Tran Headquarters, Garden Grove: Inside the converted Blockbuster store, Tran continues to hold onto his dream of defeating Sanchez. Tran is trailing by more than 5,000 votes—and the gap seems to be getting larger. But, he says, “It’s not over. There are many, many more votes to count.”
His wife gives him a warm hug. But around the campaign headquarters, the mood is somber. People are consoling one another. One says, “Well, we scared Loretta.” Others are speaking rapidly in Vietnamese; I can hear Sanchez mentioned in every couple of sentences. In a corner, Tran continues to give media interviews. His words are positive, but he looks exhausted and his words come out slowly. His wife gives him another warm hug.
“We just have to wait,” he tells me. “But there won’t be any concession tonight.”
In the distance, a woman yells, “Does anyone want to take any rice home?” (RSM)
These reports first appeared on the Weekly’s Navel Gazing blog.
This article appeared in print as "Midterm Meltdown Madness! California asses are among the few that don’t get kicked, Prop. 19 goes down in smoke, and the Weekly is there."
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