Part of the Bay Area News Group

Read dispatches from the campaign parties

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 11:11 pm in 2008 presidential primary, Alameda County, Contra Costa County.

The Bay Area News Group sent three reporters out into the field tonight to the campaign parties. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room in the print edition for all their fine work.

But here are the full dispatches from reporter Ryan Huff of the Contra Costa Times, political reporter Josh Richman from the Oakland Tribune and Valley Times reporter Lea Blevins.

FROM JOSH RICHMAN AT OBAMA’S PARTY IN SAN FRANCISCO

Hundreds of Obama supporters thronged the Grand Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill, cheering each time another state was called for their candidate.

Some posed for snapshots next to cardboard cutouts of the candidate, most mixed and mingled; all looked somewhat relieved this hard-fought California battle was coming to an end.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, the first House member from California to endorse Obama and his national campaign’s western regional co-chairwoman, said seeing CNN call

California for Clinton didn’t dampen her spirits, as Obama still was projected to win a significant chunk of delegates here and had done very well in other states.

“I’m very excited, very pleased,” she said while traveling from the Fairmont back to Oakland for an unofficial Obama volunteers’ party. “I think people recognize that our nation really needs to heal.”

Tuesday’s record turnout reflects that voters “still believe in our country… they want a new direction.”

Federico “Freddy” Chavez, nephew of revered union and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, took the Fairmont Hotel party’s podium with a loud “Si se puede – yes we can!”

“Don’t be disheartened by what CNN is putting out here,” he said, gesturing to the huge projection screen behind him. “The real fight is for delegates, and we are getting delegates!”

“Tonight does not mark the end of anything,” Tony West of Oakland, a leading California fundraiser and volunteer for Obama, told the crowd. “It is not over tonight, we have a long way to go.”

Offstage, West said he’ll continue raising money for Obama and will “play any role that is helpful to him.”

That includes flying to Chicago later this week to be part of the national campaign’s discussion on “the long, hard slog to the nomination” still ahead. “Because California gave us the delebates we needed, that could prove decisive at the end of the day… We don’t know yet, it’s too early,” he said.

But, he added, the fact that all eyes were on California this Super Tuesday, and that so many states will play pivotal roles this year, is “tremendous and exhilarating.” Moments later, another cheer went up as CNN called Missouri for Obama.

FROM LEA BLEVINS IN PLEASANTON

By 9:15 p.m., McCain supporters gathered at the Hop Yard Alehouse in Pleasanton were already trickling home after the news that their candidate had a strong edge in California.

The boisterous alehouse setting provided a base for McCain campaign volunteers from throughout the Bay Area.

Televisions blared loudly as supporters sipped wine and congratulated one another, surrounded by McCain campaign signs on the walls.

“We’re just ecstatic,” said Don Nelson, San Francisco regional chairman for McCain. “We’re having an excellent night.” Danville resident Jeff Elfont, Contra Costa County chairman for McCain, said about 40 people from all over the Bay Area came out to watch the results in Pleasanton but many were already heading home once TV stations began predicting a win for McCain in California.

Elfont said he was disappointed to see Huckabee take the lead in Georgia and Tennessee over McCain but was staying positive.

“Often in life, you don’t get everything,” he said.

Across town in the Koll Center business park, about 15 campaign volunteers for Romney gathered to cheer on their candidate as they watched Fox News.

Campaign volunteer Leslie Barkdull of Pleasanton organized the party that included two rooms for news viewing, snacks and red, white and blue balloons.

Despite McCain’s lead in a number of states, Romney’s supporters were focusing on their candidate’s accomplishments thus far. “It’s exciting to see the results come in,” Barkdull said. “Our hard work is paying off.”

Pleasanton resident Judy Symcox likened the primary race to the Super Bowl, saying the end of Super Tuesday meant we were only headed into the third quarter.

“Did the Patriots have it won at half time?,” Symcox said. “I don’t think so.”

RYAN HUFF IN SAN FRANCISCO AT CLINTON’S CAMPAIGN PARTY

Hillary Clinton’s volunteers and supporters gathered at her Northern California campaign headquarters in downtown San Francisco. More than 150 people walked up a creaky staircase to the third floor of a commercial building to huddle shoulder-to-shoulder around two television sets tuned to CNN.

As network anchors projected Clinton as the winner of various states, the crowd waved blue signs and chanted “HILL-A-RY! HILL-A-RY!”

Clinton’s California campaign director, Ace Smith, told an energetic audience that maybe it was time to put a spin on one of Obama’s trademark chants.

“We’ve heard a slogan tonight of ‘Yes we can!’ How about a new slogan? Yes she can!” Smith shouted over a PA system.

Many Bay Area residents like Stephanie McMurtrie volunteered for the first time on a presidential campaign.

“I’ve always voted, but I wanted to do more this time to help decide who our president would be,” said McMurtrie, a San Francisco resident who has worked phone banks for the Clinton campaign. “I’m really excited it looks like she’ll win California because I thought it would be closer tonight.”

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