Big night for blue and red

Both camps claim victories, though council race is still too close to call

Wally Herger promises a room full of Republicans that he and his Republican-majority House of Representatives will vote down Obamacare.

Wally Herger promises a room full of Republicans that he and his Republican-majority House of Representatives will vote down Obamacare.

Photo By meredith j. cooper

Tuesday night (Nov. 2) marked both highs and lows for the Republicans and Democrats. Republicans rallied around the national races, which saw the House of Representatives turn red, while Democrats cheered on the state results, as nearly every position was won by the blue camp.

So, at parties across the city of Chico, bad news was countered by good news, keeping the crowds upbeat and optimistic into the wee morning hours.

The mood was jubilant at Butte County Republican headquarters. Fox News was projected onto the wall, and by all accounts Republicans were sweeping the nation. When news flashed that Republicans had taken over control of the House of Representatives, the room erupted in cheers.

Wally Herger, one of those Republicans returning to Congress (he beat opponent Jim Reed in his district, though early results show him defeated in Butte County), showed up late in the evening to share hand shakes and words of optimism with the hundred or so supporters filling the old Hollywood Video store on East Avenue.

“We’ve got a big responsibility when we go back to Washington,” he told the CN&R.

With a Republican majority in the House, he admitted it will still be difficult to pass legislation through the Senate and the president. But, it gives him hope.

“When you’re in the minority, you don’t win very many battles. This is very exciting,” he said. Supporters broke out in cheers when he took the mic and announced, “We will overturn Obamacare.”

Judging by the buzzing conversations at the party, local Republicans share his optimism, despite the fact that Meg Whitman was defeated by Jerry Brown for the job of California governor. Even Dan Logue, who easily kept his position in the state Assembly, remained upbeat while talking about the defeat of his Proposition 23, which would have suspended the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Throughout the evening, the conservative candidates for City Council—from left to right, Bob Evans, Bob Kromer and Mark Sorensen—led in the vote. That changed in the wee morning hours, but the race is still too close to call.

Photo By meredith j. cooper

“They’re going to drive this state almost off a cliff,” he predicted of the Democrats in state office. “The people of California are going to rise up and have a tax revolt. There will be a battle. It will be epic. And in 24 months we’ll bring Prop. 23 back.”

Republican headquarters was also the home base for the three conservative candidates for Chico City Council, Mark Sorensen, Bob Evans and Bob Kromer. They occupied the three top spots all night, but by 11 p.m. only about 11 percent of the votes had been counted, so they remained cautiously optimistic.

Kromer expressed hopefulness at the prospect of three conservatives taking over the three empty seats on the council. “It would add a much-needed business perspective to the City Council,” he said.

Across town, the liberals were having a different kind of a party. Mark Herrera, also running for City Council, hunkered down with about 50 of his supporters—including Mayor Ann Schwab and Vice Mayor Tom Nickell—in the back room of Duffy’s Tavern. Wednesday morning’s results proved what he’d feared Tuesday night, however—that he had not gained quite enough momentum to clinch a council seat.

Council incumbents Mary Flynn and Scott Gruendl set up camp a few blocks over at Mom’s, heading over after the council meeting ended around 10 p.m. Flynn gathered with a brood of college students at one end table, while Gruendl mingled with a group of men near the bar. Schwab and Nickell, who appeared to be floating between Duffy’s and Mom’s, showed their support along with other council members (Larry Wahl hung out with the Republicans).

Just before midnight, Flynn announced over a partition, “Scott, you’re in third!” Gruendl responded with disbelief, then smiled and clapped. He always starts at the bottom, because the first precincts to report are very conservative, he said.

Although he voted for Proposition 19, Gruendl wasn’t surprised it didn’t pass.

Wednesday morning results showed Sorensen still in the lead, followed by Gruendl and Flynn, who have less than 150 votes separating them. Evans, in fourth, trails Flynn by just 61 votes. With some 13,000 ballots left to be counted county-wide, it’s still anyone’s race (though Sorensen appears safe with nearly 2,000 votes between him and Gruendl). Candace Grubbs, Butte County clerk-recorder, said her office has 28 days to finish the count.

Councilmen Andy Holcombe (left) and Jim Walker (second from right) watch the results and support incumbents Mary Flynn and Scott Gruendl late on election night in a race that’s too close too call.


“We’re going to try to button this up by Thanksgiving,” Grubbs said. There will be no updates until all the remaining votes are counted. She attributes some of the gridlock to the huge number of vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the polling places.

“We’re happy to get them, but they do delay the final vote count,” she said.

As for the remaining state races, Democrats clinched spots for governor (Brown), lieutenant governor (Gavin Newsom), secretary of state (Debra Bowen), controller (John Chiang) and attorney general (Kamala D. Harris), among other positions.

Propositions 19 (legalizing marijuana), 21 (park funding), 23 (suspending global-warming act), 24 (repealing lower business taxes), and 27 (eliminating state redistricting commission) all failed. Propositions 20 (redistricting of congressional districts), 22 (prohibiting state from taking local funds), 25 (simple majority to pass budget), and 26 (two-thirds vote for some state/local fees) passed.

Additional reporting by Andrea LaVoy Wagner and Vic Cantu.