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Election Night: polls spur partisan celebrations

WASHINGTON-In striking contrast to the drab, any-other-day-of-the-year feel in the nation's capital during the day, election fever hit the bar scene hard once the sun went down.

Clyde's of Georgetown represented the epitome of the final struggle between the two parties, with all eyes turned to the bar-side TV for the latest results.

"It's crazy over there," a Clyde's waitress told a group of patrons wandering in. "That's the Gore corner, Republicans are back there."

Melanie Doughtery of Bethesda, Maryland relaxed with friends at the bar after her day at work at in Northern Virginia. She was at the end of the row of bar stools, the closest person to the television set and possibly the most enthusiastic.

Maybe part of her fervor stemmed from her support for her boyfriend, Class of 1991 University graduate Tyler Beardsley. A former president of University Democrats, Beardsley now works under Leon Furth, Gore's National Security Advisor. For Beardsley and Doughtery, more than just Gore's job was at stake with this election.

"I grew up in a Republican household, but I have been a Democrat at heart all my life," Doughtery said. "When you're from D.C., politics is in your blood."

Doughtery decided to expand on her political passion by helping out the Gore cause during the primary season, rallying on the floor of the House of Representatives.

"I was there because I believe so much in Gore. I don't think people realize what a difference it can make voting for Gore over Bush," she said.

Doughtery, an aspiring journalist, said she was disappointed by the lack of media coverage concerning Gore's foreign policy.

As NBC reported Gore's victory in Pennsylvania, the crowd burst into cheers and applause, with no one cheering louder than Doughtery. She saw hope for the future on the issue of abortion.

"Americans died for this chance to vote. To hand over the presidency to Bush, we are getting rid of Roe v. Wade," she said. "No one is condoning abortion, but what we're talking about here is liberty. I don't want things to go back to the way they were."

A few feet away, coated in a thick layer of cigar smoke, Richmond resident Bill Chandler, celebrating his son's 25th birthday at Clyde's, explained that although he is a Republican, he voted for Clinton twice and for Gore this time around.

For Chandler, leadership is key in the presidency, and Bush is lacking.

"If Bush wins, Cheney will have to run the country," Chandler said as he watched more state results roll in on the television.

Even though the race was still tight, the Democrats overwhelmingly occupied most of the seats at Clyde's bar, if not the House and Senate too. Tony Corkadel, of Alexandria, Va., said that as a gay man, he disagreed with Bush's perspective on same-sex marriages and hate crime laws.

Another television announcement took center stage at the bar: Hillary Clinton's New York Senate victory was met with an ear-shattering eruption of cheers from the bar.

"Hillary should be president," said Corkadel, pointing to the TV with a smile.

A handful of Republicans added to the spice of the election night bar scene. In the midst of their partisan enemies, many Republicans took a moderate stand.

"Bush stands for the American people," said Kristine Grijalva, a Republican from El Paso, Texas who was also in D.C. for business. "He's not a politician ... Gore is very superficial."

The Mayflower Hotel was the place to be for Democrats in D.C. who were experiencing the political roller- coaster ride of a lifetime.

The official party celebration was complete with loud music, red, white and blue balloons, streamers, and signs and plenty of food and drinks. All eyes were fixed on two huge jumbo-trons in the main ballroom, with the crowd mainly consisting of young and attractive party activists.

Excitement and chaos broke loose as Gore won three states and pulled ahead of Bush.

It was a whole other scene a couple blocks away at the Capitol Hilton, where the Republican party gathered for their official celebration. Donned in prom-like attire, GOP supporters schmoozed with quieter music and smaller television screens, making it a more low-key atmosphere.

The only thing differentiating the party from a black-tie affair was the extensive vending of GOP paraphenalia including tie clips and gold-embroidered elephant pillows. The tables with vats of hotdogs and sauerkraut also seemed a little out of place.

But the excitement was anti-climactic with no real end in sight as the night wore on.

In the end, exhaustion took over for political fanatics as they hopped in taxis or caught the Metro out of town. On the Metro's blue line, a girl fell asleep on her boyfriend's shoulder, a blue Gore-Lieberman placard resting in their laps.

The District and America went to sleep, with the identity of their future leader hanging in the balance overnight.


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