Collier County Democratic Party
Steady Election Day Turnout
Voting is quick and easy in Naples
2008 ELECTION - Nov. 4, 2008
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NAPLES — Before the election was called late Tuesday for Barack Obama and before Florida became Obama’s, too, Collier County Democrats watched CNN with the volume on full blast at the Inn on Fifth in downtown Naples.
CNN conservative commentator Bill Bennett was holding court, and after a while, Collier County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Hemping began booing.
“Turn him off, turn him off,” Hemping said.
Jim Erb, sitting right in front of Hemping, replied: “We’re liberals, we let everyone talk.”
And talk they did.
Words like historic, excited, hopeful and enthusiasm peppered the conversations of those attending the party. They hugged, cheered and danced when Obama’s election was announced. Then they took pictures with an Obama cardboard cutout.
Even after the election announcement, they yelled, “We want Florida. We want Florida.”
After Florida was called for Obama, they yelled some more.
“No more maverick,” said Doy Pierre, 38. “We are the maverick, now.”
At the Collier Athletic Club in Naples, where Collier County’s Republicans gathered, Collier GOP Chairwoman Carla Dean rolled up a John McCain sign more than an hour before the election was called.
There, the television channel was FOX News, the volume low and the mood disappointed.
Words like “end of democracy” filled people’s conversations.
“Anyone who has any bit of knowledge or understanding of history, the issues and what has transpired over the election, if this candidate wins, it’s a tragic moment in our history,” said Rhonda Luihn before the Republican gathering broke up.
As Dean pointed out, local Republicans could still be proud that McCain carried Southwest Florida.
McCain carried Lee County with 145,624 votes, or 54.7 percent, to Obama’s 117,878 votes, or 44.3 percent. McCain also won Collier County with 83,238 votes, or 60.7 percent, to Obama’s 52,710 votes, or 38.5 percent.
There weren’t any parties happening at the John F. Murphy American Legion Post 303 in Bonita Springs. FOX News was on tap, and as the polls leaned toward Obama, only one of the half-dozen veterans in attendance would share their reaction.
Danielle Hurd, 34, was a surgical specialist in the Navy during the Gulf War, and she supported McCain.
“At least he has an idea of world politics,” Hurd said, “versus Obama who doesn’t have that experience.”
At the Bonita Bistro Cuban Restaurant connected to the Comfort Inn Hotel, screams erupted when the race was called for Obama 30 minutes later.
Bonita Councilwoman Martha Simons and about 30 other supporters were gathered around a big screen tuned to MSNBC. There were tears of joy.
“It’s very uplifting for our country,” Simons said, as she hugged an Obama supporter. “It’s like New Year’s Eve.”