And the Winner Is...

Election Day finally arrives--with disappointed Democrats and few surprises in local contests

By 9 p.m. on Election Night, the mood at the Virgin Voter Ball at Hotel Congress was apprehensive. Already, early hopes that Kerry would go on a tear--maybe getting surprising states like North Carolina--had been dashed. Bush had won 196 electoral votes and Kerry had just 112, with Florida sliding into Bush's column. And it didn't get any better for Kerry and his supporters as more results came in.

Hotel Congress was packed with a decidedly pro-Kerry crowd even before the ball's scheduled 7 p.m. start time. As the night wore on, the building and the parking lot, where Linda Ronstadt was set to perform, filled with visibly nervous people, still hopeful that their man would win despite an absence of favorable surprises in the early results.

Among them was internationally renowned musician Ry Cooder, who had exceptionally strong words for the precipice upon which the country teetered: "Well, we're in this moment that's about to turn into something very significant--I'm dreading the fascism that will result from a Bush win. Not just ordinary fascism, mind you, but full-on state fascism. On the other hand, we could have a situation that offers hope. It's quite a moment. It's great to be here in Tucson at the Hotel Congress, and I'm glad I didn't stay in L.A., because I'd just be at home watching it on my TV."

The crowd was considerably more upbeat on the other side of downtown, at the Republican celebration at the Manning House. As news reports of Bush victories were flashed on a big-screen TV tuned to Fox News, cries of "Four more years!" erupted from the Young Republicans who packed a ballroom.

Randy Graf, the Republican lawmaker who unsuccessfully challenged Congressman Jim Kolbe in a primary earlier this year, said he was happy with the apparent Bush win, as well as the victory for Prop 200, the controversial initiative that would force welfare applicants to prove their residency, as well as require voters to prove they were citizens before registering.

Graf complained that there was "a tremendous amount of misinformation about Prop 200. It's not going to affect libraries and police and fire and parks and all that."

Graf said his next step was to "find a job," but said he could well challenge Kolbe again.

"We'll be back," he said.

At the Democratic Party's Election Night fiesta at the nearby Radisson, the mood was also upbeat, albeit nervous.

"I'm holding out hope," said Elizabeth Przygoda, a Kerry volunteer who wasn't looking forward to four more years of the Bush Administration.

Down the street at Congressman Raul Grijalva's campaign headquarters, the smell of tamales and the slank of Bud Light cans filled the air, as the crowd huddled around nervously around television sets.

Outside, a band was playing as Grijalva sat on a curb beneath a vapor light, stressing about the presidential race. "It's too early to call anything," he said.

But one thing was certain, said Grijalva, who was sailing to re-election over crackpot Republican Joe Sweeney vote total by a 2-to-1 margin (even though about 50,000 morons voted for the admitted racist): The huge voter turnout means that demographics are shifting.

"The trick," Grijalva said, "is hanging on to all the new voters--the young people and others we've brought into the process."

At press time, the crowd was awaiting the arrival of Bill Staples, the Democrat who was winning the race for county assessor over Republican Bill Heuisler.

In the fight for three Tucson Unified School District seats, incumbents Joel Ireland and Judy Burns were leading the pack, with Alex Rodriguez in a lead for third place over Pam Perry.

"I'm on pins and needles," Rodriguez said. "I always said this was the Kentucky Derby at its best."

In the tightest legislative race, District 25, the incumbents, Democrat Manny Alvarez and Republican Jennifer Burns, were holding onto their seats against challengers Democrat Monica Perez and Republican David Stevens.

In other races:

· District 8 Congressman Jim Kolbe clobbered Eva Bacal, the latest Democrat to learn that the ol' it's-time-for-a-change slogan is not enough to knock off a 10-term incumbent. Kolbe was leading with 60 percent of the vote, easily covering the 26-point spread set by the Weekly in our last edition.

· Arizona Sen. John McCain rolled his straight-talk express over Democrat Stuart Starky.

· Incumbent Corporation Commissioners Bill Mundell, Jeff Hatch-Miller and Mike Gleason defeated the Democratic duo of Mark Manoil and Nina Trasoff.

· In Legislative District 25, Democratic incumbent Marsha Arzberger was easily holding off a challenge by Republican Les Thompson.

· In Legislative District 26, incumbent Republicans Pete Hershberger and Steve Huffman swatted Democrats Marty Drozdoff and Amanda Simpson. Incumbent Sen. Toni Hellon was unopposed.

· In Legislative District 27, Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia and House members Phil Lopes and Carmen Cajero-Bedford strolled unopposed to victory.

· In Legislative District 28, incumbent Democratic Sen. Gabrielle Giffords defeated Republican Chuck Josephson. House incumbents Dave Bradley and Ted Downing dispatched Republicans Richard Dale and Bill Phillips.

· In Legislative District 29, incumbent Sen. Victor Soltero defeated Republican Bruce Murchison. House members Linda Lopez and Tom Prezelski were unopposed.

· In Legislative District 30, Republicans Marian McClure and Jonathan Paton beat Democrat Esther Sharif. Republican Sen. Tim Bee was unopposed.

· Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik defeated Republican Roland Youngling by about 15 percentage points.

· All five county supervisors will retain their seats after Republican Ann Day and Democrats Sharon Bronson and Richard Elias easily squashed a trio of Libertarians.

· Democratic County Attorney Barbara LaWall dispatched Libertarian David Euchner and Green Claudia Ellquist.