Shock and awe
Election night in the camps of local Democrats and Republicans
Depending on who was watching it unfold on national television, the result of the presidential election was either a surreal, slow-motion train wreck or a major upset victory. That much was apparent in Chico during the gatherings of local Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday evening (Nov. 8).
The local races were a mixed bag for both parties, according to tentative results reported by the Butte County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. As of the CN&R’s deadline to press, there were about 13,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to count throughout the county, said Clerk-Recorder Candace Grubbs. There’s no telling how the additional ballots will affect the super-tight race for the Chico City Council (see info box).
“It’s really close and it could change,” Grubbs said. “We still have a lot of ballots to go through.”
Local Republicans were upbeat. Approximately 75 came through the North State Republican Victory HQ and ate, drank and watched results on a big-screen television and laptop projector.
Cheers came intermittently as Fox News and other media outlets called key states for Trump and as numbers from local races got updated. Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Assemblyman James Gallagher and Chico City Councilman Sean Morgan—all handily re-elected Tuesday—addressed the crowd at 9 p.m., as did state Sen. Jim Nielsen, not up for election.
“Wow, what a night!” Nielsen declared. “You all are a part of a big piece of history.”
From municipal to federal, GOP candidates saw positive returns. LaMalfa, from Richvale, won his rematch with Democrat Jim Reed 58.9 percent to 41.1 percent. Gallagher won a second Assembly term by topping Democrat (and fellow Yuba-Sutter official) Ed Ritchie, 62.8 percent to 37.2 percent.
Morgan, Chico’s vice mayor and the top fundraiser in the 11-candidate City Council field, emerged as the top vote-getter based on Tuesday evening’s preliminary results. If the standings hold, his fellow conservatives—Jovanni Tricerri, Loretta Torres and Jeffrey Glatz—fell significantly short of the other three available seats.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t bring a few people with us,” Morgan said. He added that, overall, he was relieved. “I never for half a second thought, ‘Oh, we had this’ … because you just don’t know, and this is one of the oddest election years.”
Morgan and Gallagher both talked about campaign coordination up and down the ticket.
“Probably for the first time in a long time, we’ve had some synergy with Republican candidates: federal, state and local,” Gallagher said.
LaMalfa strongly supported Gallagher and Morgan. He also endorsed Trump and remained past 11:30 p.m., after most of the gathering had dispersed, to watch the president-elect’s acceptance speech.
“Trump, he’s kind of an unknown quantity in how he will govern,” LaMalfa said. “I would believe people would want to be kind of open-minded about it and get beyond all the hype and all the nasty stuff and all the things in the past in word and deed that I want to believe he’s repented from.”
Sad day for Dems
Beer and margaritas were flowing early during the Chico Progressives Victory Party at Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant on Fair Street, but the festive mood tanked as it became increasingly apparent that Donald Trump would become the next president of the United States.
The national results soured what should have been a celebration, at least for the three progressive candidates who likely won seats on the Chico City Council—incumbents Ann Schwab and Randall Stone and former Mayor Karl Ory. The odd progressive candidate out was Councilwoman Tami Ritter.
“It’s challenging not to have held on to my seat,” Ritter said by phone on Wednesday (Nov. 9). “The silver lining here is that Karl Ory took that seat, and I have all the confidence that Ory is going to be a wonderful council member. I don’t have any concerns there.
“The outcome of the national election is what’s really throwing me for a loop.”
Another candidate with a bitter pill to swallow was Reed, the Democratic challenger for LaMalfa’s District 1 seat in Congress. Throughout the night, he closely watched incoming results on his laptop and saw the writing on the wall early on.
“The campaign felt good,” he said. “I was counting on the Trump effect; if he got trounced, that would mean Republicans weren’t showing up to vote. It doesn’t look like that’s happening.”
As the gathering thinned out, the few people who remained were slouched over their drinks, watching, seemingly shell-shocked, as Trump took the White House. Cheri Smith-Comfort, who showed her support for Hillary Clinton by wearing an all-red pantsuit, said she took the loss hard.
“I am nauseated,” she said. “What the fuck is wrong with this country? What do I tell my children tomorrow morning?”