Elections

Election updates: Local Republicans celebrate early election results in Lakewood

Donald Trump supporters cheer election results in Lakewood

An upbeat and party-like mood fills the room at the Pierce County Republican party Tuesday at the Sharon McGavick Conference Center in Lakewood as early national election results point to a likely Donald Trump presidential victory.
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An upbeat and party-like mood fills the room at the Pierce County Republican party Tuesday at the Sharon McGavick Conference Center in Lakewood as early national election results point to a likely Donald Trump presidential victory.

9:46 p.m. - Early returns showed a comfortable if narrow lead for incumbent Secretary of State Kim Wyman, buttressed by strong results outside King County.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said at in Bellevue. “I want to see what the results are of the 1:30 a.m. run by King County. If we’re still ahead after that, I feel very confident that we’re gonna win.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant was less fortunate, with the first night’s returns showing him trailing incumbent Jay Inslee. Telling the crowd at the Hyatt Regency, “Let’s see what the sunshine brings,” Bryant declined an interview.

Sean Robinson, staff writer

9:40 p.m. - Local Republicans were in good spirits at Lakewood’s Sharon McGavick Conference Center.

Sandy George-Manning, 62, from Gig Harbor was exploding with enthusiasm.

“I came here tonight to celebrate the victory of Donald J. Trump’s presidency,” she said. “It’s been a long and windy road and I’ve learned so much about the politics and the corruption in Washington. I have been really despaired about the direction of the country.”

George-Manning was one of many in attendance.

“I’m feeling surreal, feeling happy excited and all the positive adjectives in the English language,” she said.

Darla David brought her four children to the event in support of support of Marty McClendon for Lt. Governor.

They have been participating throughout the election season, they said, sign waving for McClendon’s campaign.

The kids were talking excitedly about how much they love to participate in elections.

Derek Soleberg and Devin Moore were there in support of McClendon as well. It was their first time voting in an election.

Soleberg commented that he’s not a big political guy, but he’s optimistic about the election. He thinks people are “ready for a change.”

Moore said, “America wants a change, and the Republican party is that change.” He was hoping the outcome of the election would reflect that.

Some people in attendance weren’t as enthusiastic.

Warren Davies, 47, from Eatonville sat in the lobby of the conference center.

“For the first time since I was able to vote I did not vote with my party,” he said. “I voted for Gary Johnson. I belong to the military so I’m not supposed to have an opinion but it affects my life.”

Cara Gillespie and Helen Smith, contributing writers

8:38 p.m. - Almost from the moment Washington’s polls closed, state Democratic leaders began appearing in increasing numbers in the crowd milling through the Democratic watch party at the Seattle Westin. The increasingly long odds of their party retaining the presidency was an immediate topic, sometimes grimly so.

From the stage, retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Seattle) told the crowd not to discard their U.S. passports and flee the country.

“You can’t look at tonight as the end of the world,” he said.

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) over in the lobby, said Trump had “overperformed what was expected” and expressed disappointment.

“It’s sad that the country is so deeply disengaged and disinvolved with each other’s lives,” he said as he exited the state party’s event to go to an Initiative 1491 event.

Other party leaders said they have focused some attention on the strength of their party in Western Washington and drawing optimism from that.

“We’re keeping the faith. We’re keeping the hope alive,” state Democratic chair Jaxon Ravens said from the ballroom stage.

State Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle) said she was still holding onto hope the national totals could swing toward Clinton.

“I think we’re going to be waiting all night,” Cody said. “I think it’s going to be close, closer than I’d like.”

Derrick Nunnally, staff writer

8:30 p.m. - As Donald Trump continued to show strength throughout the night, state Republicans at an election night party at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency Hotel cheered network television calls of state after state, hoping for the clincher that would mean the White House.

Party chairwoman Susan Hutchison spoke at about 8:20 p.m., reading early returns showing gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant with a narrow lead. Hutchison warned the crowd that returns from vote-rich King County, representing 30 percent of the statewide vote, hadn’t appeared yet, due to a “glitch” in the county’s computer system. Derisive jeers followed.

Sean Robinson, staff writer

8:30 p.m. - Hillary Clinton is not the only candidate on the minds of the Pierce County Democrats. Three prominent members of the group emphasized Tuesday at a party at Tacoma’s Hotel Murano the importance of keeping Democratic values strong in local elections.

“I’ve been a Democrat my whole life,” said Linda Isenson. “I started campaigning when I was six by licking envelopes.”

Her involvement in local politics continues, as she currently serves as Chair of the Pierce County Democrats. She explained that she saw opportunities in the local election, specifically in the county executive and county council races. She described filling these seats with Democrat candidates as a means to remove” Republican roadblocks” on the path of progress.

Tacoma City Council member Marty Campbell shared Ivenson’s emphasis on the local election’s importance. “The important issues are the local races. Those are the seats that interact with us on the day to day bases” Campbell said.

He cited his party’s focus on social issues as the highlight of his experience as a Democrat, remarking, “We’re looking forward to being able to take care of our neighbors.”

Gail Kirk, a retired teacher, focused on the implications of local candidates’ impact on national issues. She stressed the importance of electing candidates working toward gun restrictions and cutting campaign spending, saying, “We should limit how much money a candidate can have.” A longtime Democrat, she was an intern for Norm Dicks in 1979 while he served as Representative for Washington’s 6th congressional district. More recently, she was named Pierce County’s Democrat of the Year in 2009.

Looking back proudly on her long record as a Democrat, Kirk remarked that Democratic Party candidates embody what politics should be. “They argue why they are the best, not why their opponent is the worst.”

Libby Postovoit and McKenna Morin, contributing writer

8:02 p.m. - Emotions were high Tuesday at Lakewood’s Sharon McGavick Conference Center, where local Republicans gathered to watch election results.

Bruce Holmberg, 59, from University Place was among about 150 people in attendance and said he was there to “be a part of history with fellow Republicans.”

Shana Veillette, a Puyallup resident wearing a “Hillary for prison pin”, and Cathy House, a Tacoma resident, said they have both been supporting Donald Trump since the beginning of his campaign.

“He’s a business man, not a politician so there’s no B.S.,” House said. She said she was “feeling good” because Trump was ahead in electoral votes.

Others were waiting for local election results as polls were closing in Washington state.

“I care more about my local elections at this point,” said Monica Vaskey, a worker at Western State Hospital who lives in Lakewood. She said this is the first election night party she has been to and she wants “more of a Republican voice” in Washington state politics.

Morgan Stark and Rhiannon Berg, contributing writers

7:37 p.m. - Donald Trump – actually a cardboard cutout – stood at the entrance to the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt in Bellevue, greeting guests with a thumbs-up. His likeness quickly turned into a selfie station. Guest after guest struck a pose with him.

The first genuine outburst of the night came at 7:27 p.m., when FOX news, broadcasting on big screens, called Ohio and its prized 18 electoral votes for the Republican nominee. The staid crowd even allowed a few chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump” before returning to conversations that grew increasingly jovial.

Sean Robinson, staff writer

7:12 p.m. - Watching national election returns and what appeared to be a stronger than expected performance from Donald Trump, state Republicans began to smile more.

State Sen. Mark Miloscia, a candidate for state auditor, still didn’t know how he would fare in his own race – the polls hadn’t closed by 7:10 p.m. – but he was upbeat, talking up his chances, and those of gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant.

“People want change,” Miloscia said.

Sean Robinson, staff writer

7:05 p.m. - With a raft of early states already called for each candidate, state Democrats’ party at the Seattle Westin turned lively hours before any Washington county ever announced a vote count.

The crowd huddled around big-screen televisions showing CNN and MSNBC as results streamed in, cheering favorable swing-state reports from Colorado and Pennsylvania and – occasionally – admitting to nerves when Florida and Ohio showed Trump leads early.

“Nervous? Well, I wasn’t,” said Terry Grall, a software developer from Renton.

Grall, who wore a “This Nasty Woman Votes” T-shirt to the event, stood next to a bar dispensing the night’s theme cocktail – the “Madam President,” a mix of vodka, liqueurs and champagne, served over blueberries.

She eyed the crowd streaming into the hotel ballroom around her.

“I just hope that everyone got out and really voted for Hillary, all those ‘nasty women,’” she said.

Inside the ballroom, Todd Tenbrink talked up Clinton’s chances to bring in densely-populated Florida counties and said he felt no qualms about Clinton’s chances. He cited Clinton’s durable lead in national polls and the electoral map.

“Frankly, I’d rather be in her position than Donald Trump’s,” said Tenbrink, a Seattle resident who works for NOAA. “He’s the one playing from behind, not Hillary Clinton.”

The dramatic trickle of national results attracted most of the attention from the crowd that had filled the ballroom by 7 p.m.

Parents brought their children, from infants to teenagers, with the expectation of a memorable result.

Kenan Block, 62, and his son Alec, 15, watched an MSNBC screen in the ballroom’s lobby area. Both confessed that the early returns were closer than they expected, but each predicted a Clinton win.

“He’s definitely watching history tonight,” said the elder Block, a media consultant from Seattle. “It may be a late night for us, but it tells us something. This country is really divided, and we need to pay attention to that.”

Derrick Nunnally, staff writer

6:48 p.m. - As Tuesday’s state Republican party event at Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency Hotel kicked into gear, Washington State GOP chairwoman surveyed the early election results and saw cause for hope.

“I feel optimistic – I think there’s reason to feel that way at every level,” she said.

Sean Robinson, staff writer

4:25 p.m. - It is Election Day; the sun is shining and according to Pierce County Auditor Julia Anderson, “voters are in a great mood.”

Anderson said there are six centers across Pierce County but that the line at the Pierce County election center in Tacoma was long Tuesday.

At 2 p.m., the wait in the voter line was about 45 minutes and the drop box line was backed up to the street.

“We expect to see about 5,000 cars and 9,000 drop box ballots come through here today,” said Anderson. “Some people are here because they just want to be here, they are just in love with the idea of a polling station.”

Election staff members started tabulating ballots 7 a.m. Monday.

Pierce County hired an additional 450 part-time seasonal employees for the election.

There were five, 10-foot tables with about 10 people per table verifying ballots at the Tacoma center. In the same room was about eight to 10 computers with people verifying signatures and two separate office spaces called the “challenge center” with people reviewing flagged ballots.

“We could process ballots a lot faster if we had a better election center,” Anderson said.

The tabulation room contains about eight machines and about 15-20 people moving throughout.

Anderson explained that during the election, they keep the doors open for oxygen, but they lock them at night.

Compiled by: Cara Gillespie, Morgan Stark, Nicole Jones, Courtney Miranda

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