“Please, just don’t talk to Cindy, OK?” begged a public relator at the South Bay Labor Council’s Election Night party when she spotted our operative. As people scarfed down tri-tip and fried chicken and frequented the open bar, U.S. Congressman Mike Honda kicked into an impromptu karaoke performance. The mood was decidedly festive as SBLC CEO Cindy Chavez led cheers.
Not only did President Obama hang on to his job, San Jose voters approved an increased minimum wage, the union-targeted Prop. 32 failed and all liberal legislators at the state and national levels won with ease. There were labor losses at the school board and council levels, but after getting trounced in the June primaries, there seemed to be an overall mood in the building of: Wait, we’re still here?! We’re still here!
The county’s sales tax hike was approved, which seemed to lift the spirits of supervisors Dave Cortese and Ken Yeager, as well as County Executive Jeff Smith—who tossed aside administrative decorum by attending the partisan political party. Supervisor board president George Shirakawa was notably absent, which is a shame because he would have loved this type of party. (Did we mention there was chicken and beer?)
Meanwhile, over at Obama headquarters on San Jose’s Market and Santa Clara Streets, club lighting illuminated the room that just a few hours earlier was filled with tables and volunteers calling voters in swing states.
“I’ve been here since 5am and up since 3am,” said Heather Quintal, staging location director and volunteer. “It’s all blurring together.”
Volunteers danced to Rihanna and a small group clustered around bottle of Captain Morgan’s rum in the back kitchen as they waited for Obama’s victory speech. Over the last two months, volunteers at the office called voters in Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada, which were all won by Obama.
“We won every single state we phone banked,” Quintal said. Proving once again that the wheels of democracy are kept running with food, beer and sleep deprivation, volunteer Emily Ramos was ready to switch gears at the drop of a swing state. “Once CNN called it, we put everything away, cleaned it up and started celebrating,” she said.