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Students, party members watch results through political glasses

By Glenn Evans
Nov. 6, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Liberals and conservatives across Gregg County had one thing in common Tuesday night - they were fixed to breaking news reports as results of the presidential election began to come in.

The tea lost some sweetness for a gathering of conservatives in Longview when Fox News network called the election for President Barack Obama around 10:30 p.m.

"It sounds like we're going to get more of the same," We The People-Longview spokesman Bill Hale said. "From what I'm looking at, it looks like we've still got the same president. We've still got the same House (of Representatives), we've still got the same Senate."

Hale said he didn't think partisanship will lessen its hold on any of those government branches.

"Everybody's got to do what they feel like they have to do," he said. "Everybody wants the country to come together. I haven't seen any evidence of that at this point. The bottom line is, we're divided on which way the country wants to go."

The tea party gathering at New Heights Church in Longview was just one poll-watching event Tuesday.

Kilgore College sophomore Shannon Bebel was leaning left long before news networks called the result. She really was physically leaning left - so she could see the huge flat screen in a crowd of some 200 fellow students watching results coming in.

Most of the young people there were earning extra credit in government instructor Rick Moser's class, but Bebel just came to see her corner of America voting.

"This is my first time voting," she said. "I never really understood until I saw for myself - you don't realize how much it matters to people till you see how many participate."

Fellow first-time voter and sophomore Dakota Dixon was leaning right - and it was political, as he cheered as CNN called Oklahoma for Romney about 7:45 p.m.

"I'm sure all (presidential elections) have been important," he said. "But, this one feels like it's real important. I feel like it's going to effect my kids in a positive way with the deficit and distribution of money."

With all the hope and excitement in the ballroom at the Devall Student Center, freshman Roxanne Chacon wasn't convinced she'd know who the president-elect was by the end of the night. The 2000 election must have impressed her as a child, or perhaps it was Tuesday's news of lawsuits and voter challenges already brewing.

"I really don't think it will be tonight," she said.

Earlier in the evening, at the We The People-Longview confab, about members were cautiously optimistic.

"Do you feel good about things?" Frank Patronella asked county GOP Chairman Keith Rothra as the two shook hands.

"I'm, right now, hanging in limbo," Rothra replied. "I'm hopeful, but I'm hanging in limbo."

Spokesman Hale said Romney supporters had hoped for the change from George W. Bush's policies that Obama had failed to achieve.

"You can sit there and say, 'Is it worse or better?' It's still not enough," he said. "I think George W. worked hard, but I think Mr. Romney is the kind of guy, from what I've seen on the campaign trail, who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done. ... The difference, I just think, is that I think Romney understands economics more than what George W. did."

Charles Taylor didn't think so, but then he was a few miles away at a Gregg County Democratic Party gathering.

"We see the economy is moving forward very fast," he said. "And, when you look, even, at this community being basically a lot of retirement people, I don't understand how so many can support someone who is dead set on destroying the Social Security system that really provides a quality of life that a number of people in this community subsist on."

Terry Lilly dug deep in her Democratic soul to find a good element should Romney win.

"Probably the only thing that can come out positive is for the people that have that Mormon religion," she said.

Try as she might, Lilly's friend Laura Maglaris couldn't find a positive in a Romney victory.

"I think it'll go right back to Bush - it'll probably be worse," she said.

Back on the campus, Dixon had perhaps summed up the economic question pushing voters toward one candidate or the other on Tuesday.

"Both of them are going to try to work around the deficit," he said. "I just think one way's going to work and one way isn't."



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