Stalking the Polls and Partying with Orange County's Finest Obama-Haters
Congrats, you also won a chihuahua!
5:20 a.m.: OC Tea Party activist gloats that White House fears a "shit storm" is approaching. (R. Scott Moxley)
6:58 a.m. Last glance at a 4-inch stack of hostile campaign mail between Janet Nguyen and Jose Solorio. Guess what? Both say the other is a scumbag. (RSM)
7:45 a.m. Bored, Little Saigon poll worker-elation becomes palpable when first three voters finally arrive. (RSM)
8:23 a.m.: The Measure K proponents are out in force in Orange this morning, leafletting every school in the Orange Unified School District and causing the usual morning drop-off scrum to become a tangled knot of unmoving vehicles. As I wait for traffic to clear around California Elementary School, one of the volunteers says, "You ever feel like maybe we're preaching to the choir here?"
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I suggest that they might do better handing out flyers at the senior center and trying to influence those who don't have children in school.
"Are you kidding? Those people voted at 7:01 this morning. That battle is lost." (Dave Lieberman)
10:21 a.m.: "You still write for the Orange County Register?" the older Latina asks as she monitors the young volunteers helping voters at Franklin Elementary School in SanTana. "No, I never wrote for the Register," I say. "I write for the Weekly." Pause. "You still write for the Orange County Weekly?" she asks. "Yes." "You should write about the Orange County Register." "I do." Pause. "They don't deliver my newspaper anymore, until I called them and said I was canceling my subscription--and then they started delivering again." "You should still cancel your subscription--the Register sucks." Pause. "How much is a subscription for Orange County Weekly? "Free." Pause. "I like subscribing." (Gustavo Arellano)
12:29 p.m. National Republican Party boss thanks Sean Hannity of the Fair & Balanced network for helping GOP candidates win. (RSM)
12:50 p.m.: On SoCal's KBRT 740AM evangelical radio, preacher yells, "Deeee-MOCK-Grow-CCCCCC ain't workin!" (RSM)
1:25 p.m.: OC Register reader leaves online article comment predicting: "illegals will be using the dead to vote for politicians that want to destroy this country." (RSM)
2:44 p.m.: Pulling a Sarah Palin, Assembly candidate Ling-Ling Chang drops campaigning to fire shotgun at skeet targets in El Monte. (RSM)
3:00 p.m.: OC Registrar of Voters announces turnout is so far just 8.9 percent, less than the percentage of Americans (13 percent) who think Barack Obama is the Antichrist. (RSM)
4:20 p.m.: Hey, it's 4:20! Also, Guam has legalized medical marijuana, becoming the first U.S. Territory to do so. In Santa Ana, voters have their pick of two competing initiatives regulating dispensaries, Measure CC, backed by OCNorml, and Measure BB, a more restrictive plan backed by the city. (Nick Schou)
4:58 p.m.: Smelly Los Alamitos councilman Dean Grose, infamous for his watermelon card mocking Obama's first inauguration, declares: "Common sense is a lot like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it." (RSM)
6 p.m.: Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Joe Shaw seems to know he's heading for defeat, because hardly anybody seems to be voting. "Dear Friends--have you voted?" he asks in a Facebook message. "The voter turn out is extremely low. We really need you to vote. Polls close at 8 PM. It only takes a few minutes. Don't leave your vote on the table. Get out there and vote!" (NS)
6:55 p.m.: Kensington Gardens polling station, Westminster: The Los Angeles Times reports a teenage worker is removed from the polling place after election officials learn she's taking photos of voters and tweeted things like: "PLEASE SHUT THE ... UP BEFORE I THROW THE TABLE"; "The Vietnamese news station is here I'm gonna shoot myself"; and "Every voter that came is Vietnamese with the last name Nguyen or lee &; they don't speak English." That last one is followed by four emoticons of guns. Like the poll worker, her tweets and user account are disappeared. (Matt Coker)
7 p.m.: The GOP has taken over the U.S. Senate. Blah blah blah, Obamacare, blah blah, job creators, blah blah blah. (NS)
8:10 p.m.: A taquero serves up dinner plates to union members and activists outside the Anaheim campaign headquarters for Measures L and M. Jubilation erupts inside once a UNITE HERE Local 11 member announces the first returns for single-member districting and expanding city council from 4 to 6 members. Both are heading for major victory with district elections surging with 71% of the vote. Measure L Campaign Manger Eric Altman slaps a high-five to OC Labor Fed Executive Director Julio Perez. The walls echo with chants of Sí, se puede! (Gabriel San Roman)
8:11 p.m: At Diego's Downtown, a large election party is being hosted in the main bar area, with blue and yellow balloons decorating the room, some velvet ropes and wine and tacos set up for guests. Incumbent Sal Tinajero, dressed in a fine suit, checks election results on a laptop while his wife looks over his shoulder. More nicely dressed party guests sip on wine and shoot the breeze.
On any given Tuesday night, including this one, Diego's hosts an open mic night, but in the case of needing to heed the request of candidates running for office in the election, the open mic has been moved over to the large festival hall attached to the bar. There, open mic regulars- scraggly musicians, bearded punks, and dreadlocked-sporting rockers, among them- relax and chat amongst themselves while various rap, acoustic, and stand up acts take the stage, oblivious (or indifferent) to the event in the bar.
On their way to the festival hall, more hipsters enter through the bar, befuddled by the balloons and velvet ropes, but ultimately unfazed; they make a beeline for the door to the open mic. Lou Correa walks in and shakes hands with Sal and other colleagues. (Aimee Murillo)
8:40 p.m.: "Anaheim is not a support system for the resort district," Mayor Tom Tait declares. His re-election headquarters thunder with applause. They had good reason to. Tait's second term already seemed like a sure thing. "It looks really great for us," the Mayor adds in his speech for the night. The embattled Tait breathed a sigh of relief in taking a commanding lead over his two name-brand challengers Lucille Kring and Lori Galloway. James Vanderbilt, his endorsed council candidate, pulled in a close race for a second open seat on the dais. Aside from all the red, white and blue balloons, a shirt reading "If you got haters you must be doin' something right" is tacked on the wall. It isn't an official campaign shirt, but the slogan captures the vindicated mood of the night anyway. (GSR)
8:50 p.m.: Congressman Ed Royce takes the stages at Republican event at the Weston South Coast Plaza, speaks without much audience response and then went for the kill, inexplicably yelling, "We elected Ronald Reagan!" Crowd roars! (RSM)
8:51 p.m.: The open mic crowd gets larger, and the acts get louder. A couple of curious election party guests cross over the threshold dividing the bar from the festival hall to take a peek at what's happening. They take a quick shrug and walk back to the bar.
A young man with a moptop haircut walks into the open mic with two large glasses of sangria. "Dude, I got all this free wine from in there," he says, indicating the party. (AM)
9:04 p.m: JW Marriott at LA Live: KCAL/Channel 9 cuts to Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell speaking to supporters of his run for Los Angeles County sheriff, just as he is beginning to deliver a joke. But the sound feed goes out and the camera cuts to the bewildered anchorbots in the studio before returning to McDonnell and the silence. When the sound returns, he's saying something about "feeling like the guest at a eulogy." (MC)
9:06 p.m.: Newly elected Congresswoman Mimi Walters says, "We are going to tell President Obama to leave this country the way we want it left." (RSM)
9:10 p.m.: Garden Grove. Where else to have an election night party in Garden Grove than the city's forgotten slice of night life: Old Main Street. More than one politico had that idea tonight. The Globe, what is probably Garden Grove's coolest restaurant, is home to young hope of the Democratic party Bao Nguyen's election night party. Across the street? Janet Nguyen, Orange County's most notorious Vietnamese-American politician, had set up camp. (Charles Lam)
9:11 p.m.: Losing GOP Lt. Governor candidate Ron Nehring declares, "It's a great time to be a Republican!" (RSM)
9:15 p.m.: At Johnny's Saloon in Huntington Beach, Hector "HEK" Valdez is holding a private election party. But the television says he's running in second-to last place. He stands up on a barstool in the corner and asks for everyone's attention. "Excuse me," he yells. "I'd like to make an announcement," he declares. After a few moments, his supporters settle down. "I'd like to wish my beautiful wife a happy birthday," he says, motioning at a truly beautiful woman to his left. The bar erupts in cheers and applause. As it settles down, he says, "That is all," and another round of applause fills the bar. This is the only public speech HEK will make tonight at his party. (Taylor Hamby)
9:20 p.m.: Two years ago, during the presidential election, downtown SanTana was a hopping place filled with political operatives, reporters, and the common man. Tonight, the area was as dead as the OC Dems. Only C4 Deli was hopping--and that's because of its popular trivia nights (can YOU name the three Bronte sisters?)
I blame hipsters. While enjoying my third cocktail at Little Sparrow, a pair of gabachas were SO not into politics that they made me tweet the following: "Why the FUCK is someone in downtown SanTana talking about how they drank absinthe in Prague... #gentrificationpela." Later on, a SanTana city worker--a Latino, no less--tried to justify gentrification to me. Damn, does Don Papi Pulido have ears...(GA)
9:30 p.m.: The crowds at Bao's and Janet's parties are as different as you'd expect. The Globe is full of younger people of color with a core of politically active, older white Grovers. They're snacking on The Globe's euro-centric small plates and drinking Belgian beers. Across the street in Azteca, Janet's camp is older, speak more Vietnamese, and are more.. beige in general. They're eating Vietnamese catering imported to the restaurant. (CL)
9:31 p.m.: Incoming county supervisor Michelle Steel looks like she just won the California Lottery while dozens of people wait to hug her. (RSM)
9:37 p.m.: In between sets, Leonard goes up on stage to make an announcement. "Everyone, there is a large party going inside the bar... your council members, the people in charge of the city, the people with the power to make change in the city, are in there. There's free wine and tacos for whoever wants 'em." Immediately, pierced ears in the room perk up and a procession of young people make their way to the bar for the promised food.
Leonard goes on, "The people who make the decisions for the city have bought tacos for everyone!" A young woman in red wearing an "I Voted" sticker raises her wine glass in the air. "I hope CC passes!" she yells out. (AM)
9:45 p.m.: "I wish someone would throw water on Kris Murray," Claudio Gallegos tells me, referring to the evil Anaheim councilwoman who was handily winning her reelection. The longtime Democratic activist is in a downtown SanTana loft serving as headquarters for the campaigns of mayoral candidate (and current councilman) Roman Reyes, fellow councilmember David Benavides and Santa Ana Unified School District candidate Valerie Amezcua.
Amezcua lost in the same race in 2012 by the slimmest of margins, and tonight, she's winning by the slimmest of margins. She walks around the room quietly hugging people, hoping the results stay. The room throbs with techno music until someone starts shushing everyone; it's time to update the OC Registrar of Voting returns.
The room quiets. Then a Chicana out of a George Lopez monologue speaks up. "Ah, the room got quiet! SHIIIIIT! We don't have to talk no more!" Someone get her a sit-com, stat! (GA)
9:46 p.m.: In Washington, D.C., the Tea Party Express confirms what has been assumed all along, that it is not a grass-roots, non-partisan, "independent movement," but an arm of the Republican Party. "Republicans have reached the magic number of 6 Senate seats that were necessary to take control of the U.S. Senate and put an end to Harry Reid's reign as Senate Majority Leader," boasts a Tea Party Express email. "In fact, we are now up to 7 gains in the Senate! ... We have successfully flipped West Virginia, Arkansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, North Carolina and Iowa from blue to red, not to mention successfully defending Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia. We couldn't be more ecstatic, and we still have more states to go that are in play." (MC)
10:03 p.m.: The mood is not festive at Jose Solorio's party at Original Mike's, where only the most dedicated or socially desperate of his staffers stand watching him get trounced by Janet Nguyen, and after spending a few minutes watching bored Democrats, we wander to the other side of the downtown Santa Ana restaurant. There, perched uncomfortably on saddle-shaped barstools with shots of Buchanan's, we watch a man in a shiny silk blouse and leather pants croon The King's "Separate Ways", followed by a maudlin mashup of "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic", to a large clot of elderly white people. Some of them sway in time with the beat; one woman conducts the song with a flashing, rainbow-colored LED wand; one woman stands, enraptured, her hands in the air as though she were at a charismatic church service.
It's just par for the course in Orange County: the Democrats got upstaged by the local chapter of Blanche Devereaux's Hunka Hunka Burning Love Elvis Fan Club. (DL)
10:15 p.m.: The ESPN Zone at Downtown Disney is quiet on this Tuesday night. The first floor is mostly empty. Word is that Anaheim councilwomen Kris Murray and Gail Eastman are partying up their reelection bids here alongside the Kring for Mayor crowd. Two staircases leading to the second floor are chained off from the bottom. Anaheim's political and economic elite are chilling near the House of the Mouse but the public is fittingly fenced away. (GSR)
10:17 p.m.: In 2009, I exposed Assemblyman Mike Duvall, a married Christian conservative, for graphically bragging about banging corporative lobbyists and tonight one of his ex-staffers tells me she hates me. She's serious. (RSM)
10:30 p.m.: 14 years ago, I covered my first Weekly election night at the Disneyland Hotel, where the Dems had their gathering--an awesome, rollicking shindig until the horrible news came from Florida. My how the times changed: tonight, it's a far smaller crowd at Original Mike's.
"I've Got a Feeling" is playing, but the lyrics are mocking the crowd. Not only did the Dems lose the Senate, but the local party's two most important races--the 65th Assembly District and 34th State Senate District--handily go to the GOP, imperiling the Dems' super-majority in Sacramento. Jose Solorio, the state senate candidate who smiles more than the Cheshire Cat, takes the stage and tries to rally the crowd.
"Republicans had just a little bit more appetite for voting and it's showing," he cheerily says. "The early numbers are not positive, but the fight goes on."
No, it doesn't. Shortly after him follows DPOC chair Henry Vandemeier, looking as schlubby as his politics in a polo shirt and jeans. "We knew this was going to be a hard race, didn't we?" he half-apologized. Nevertheless, Vandemeier--whose first election was an unmitigated disaster, with defeats across the county, even of incumbents--vowed "The goal is to turn this county blue."
Tonight, the only thing blue was the hair in those "Dixie" fans--stay classy, Dems! (GA)
10:40 p.m.: Garden Grove: Bao Nguyen has spoken more Spanish then Vietnamese tonight. (CL)
10:43 p.m.: Having been trounced by Gov. Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari is having a hard time finding people who want to talk with him. (RSM)
10:45 p.m.: Back at the district elections camp, most of the rank-and-file folks have filed out. With half the precincts reported the election results from early on largely remain. The two measures are poised to pass by sizable margins. Everyone poses for pictures next to "Yes on L" signs. "We won!" they proudly exclaim. (GSR)
11:01 p.m.: Irvine councilwoman Christina Shea beams after learning voters booted nemesis Agran out of office, the most historic OC news of the night. (RSM)
11:02 p.m.: JW Marriott at LA Live: KCAL/Channel 9's sister station, KCBS/Channel 2 cuts to Jim McDonnell thanking his supporters for helping him win the LA County sheriff's race, but as soon as the current Long Beach police chief is seen live, the sound goes out yet again. We see his mouth moving with nothing coming out for a few beats before the sound resumes, loud applause is heard and then the bewildered anchorbots in the studio take back the story. Even in a win, poor Jimmy can't win. (MC)
12:01 p.m.: The updated numbers are in, and HEK moves from tenth to ninth place, above Mark Bixby. The bar again erupts in enthusiastic hoots and hollers. (TH)
12:19 a.m.: A pretty blonde lady comes up to me as I'm washing glasses. She orders a water. As I give it to her, she mentions, "I think it's interesting how the other [Huntington Beach City Council] candidates showed up here...at a party for HEK. They were all at Mama's before and then came over here later."
"Oh really?" I ask.
"Yeah, you can tell who they are because they showed up in suits to Johnny's," she says. (TH)
12:22 a.m.: Red-faced lobbyist and OC Water District Board member Steve Sheldon launches a 9-minute, incoherent rant attacking the Weekly's coverage of his dad, the Traditional Values Coalition's Rev. Lou Sheldon. (RSM)
1 a.m.: Kandice Hawes of OCNorml, posts on Facebook that both Measure CC and Measure BB are getting more than 50 percent support among Santa Ana voters, but that the BB, backed by the city and put on the ballot to undermine CC, is pulling ahead.
1:30 a.m.: Surf City Mayor Pro Tem Shaw concedes defeat in a Facebook message. "Thanks to all of our incredible volunteers and supporters," he says. "I love you all, you mean the world to me. It was a tough night but we worked hard, and gave it our all." (NS)
2:35 a.m.: The bartenders and I clean the bar from the busy election night party. Once the bar is clean, we walk out front to lock up. Red, white and blue balloons are tied to the door. The lead bartender asks another bartender if he has a knife. They pop the balloons, toss them into the ashtray out front and lock the door. (TH)
There's a metaphor in here somewhere
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