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The scene at the Obama party in SF

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,” Lee said.

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.