Grand old partytime
Conservatives celebrate local, state and national election results
North State Republicans had plenty to celebrate on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 4), with conservatives winning major victories ranging from control of Congress to the three open seats on the Chico City Council. Locally, the Butte County Republican Party hosted a resplendent celebration at the Holiday Inn after polls closed at 8 p.m., proving they don’t call it the Grand Old Party for nothing.
Several hundred Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) and state Assembly candidate James Gallagher—all of whom won their respective contests, beating Democratic challengers Heidi Hall, C.J. Jawahar and Jim Reed, respectively—filled the hotel’s main meeting room, which was lined on one side with catered finger foods including meatballs, chicken-and-pineapple skewers and stuffed mushrooms. Attendees were given two drink tickets at check-in, good for cocktails, wine and beer served from a bar located at the far end of the smorgasbord.
The consistent dull roar of conservative conversation lubricated by free drinks was interrupted around 8:40, as LaMalfa led the assembly in a prayer, asking God to bless America and make it a nation of His laws and values rather than “a country of depravity.” LaMalfa’s words were met with a hearty “Amen” and ululations from the crowd.
Chico Police Officers’ Association President Peter Durfee followed LaMalfa by leading the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Congressman reclaimed the post he maintained much of the night, watching national results roll in between two large screens showing Fox News and greeting a consistent stream of well-wishers.
Also spotted at the party was Diane Brown, a political neophyte who won a successful campaign for assessor against Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly. Despite being significantly outspent and lacking Connelly’s name recognition, Brown managed to garner about 55 percent of votes.
Meanwhile, just blocks away on Mangrove Avenue at the Butte County Democratic Party’s Chico campaign office, a few dozen volunteers and die-hards attended a less-auspicious gathering. The potluck-style refreshments were set haphazardly around a table and there was no bar, just a few loose bottles of help-yourself wine and an unopened bottle of celebratory champagne sitting among the cookies and crackers.
A TV broadcasted national returns via MSNBC in the main meeting room, but many of the attendees instead gathered around a computer screen in another room, regularly hitting refresh for the most recent local updates, which consistently showed Chico City Council candidate Lupe Arim-Law—who was present, along with candidate Forough Molina—in fourth place behind the three conservative challengers, Vice Mayor Mark Sorensen and newcomers Andrew Coolidge and Reanette Fillmer. Despite the grim news coming in, the Democrats remained hopeful.
“It’s still pretty early, so I’m feeling confident, and I’m excited,” Arim-Law said. “It’s been a really interesting journey, and I’m happy that I [ran for office].
“I look forward to whatever happens,” Arim-Law continued, saying she’ll stay involved in politics after her City Council bid. “Whatever happens tomorrow, it’s going to be a good day, and Chico will be alright.”
Mayor Scott Gruendl ended up in sixth place, followed by Rodney Willis.
In other local election results, Butte County voters approved the more austere of two ordinances regulating medical marijuana cultivation by approving Measure A and voting down Measure B. Measure C—a half-cent sales tax hike in Paradise—was narrowly approved by 51.55 percent, prevailing by a difference of less than 250 votes. Former Republican state Assemblyman Dan Logue lost his bid for the District 3 Congressional seat to incumbent Democrat John Garamendi. Democrats still hold the state’s top office, with Gov. Jerry Brown winning a record fourth term.