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Democrats in Tampa Rejoice as President Obama Cruises to Re-Election

The mood at the party at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry was pretty mellow for the first several hours. But electricity started to flow through the crowd as President Obama picked off one swing state after another. Just as Hillsborough County Democratic Chairman Chris Mitchell took the stage, MSNBC's big screen announced the president had gone over the the top.

Just after the announcement, Mack Frank celebrated by hugging a friend.

"Thank you. THANK YOU! How you doing? Thank you!," he said.

Frank came to Tampa from Louisiana to "make a difference" and volunteer with the Obama campaign.

"You could see the excitement with all the people," he said. "And I think that '47 percent' haunted him, more than anything else. He had so many goofs. I don't even know why this election was thought to be close."

Frank didn't gloat over his candidate's victory. Instead, he hopes the national can heal its partisan divide.

"This is great for the country, man. We needed this," he said. "And I think the next four years will be different from the last four. Maybe the Republicans will read the handwriting on the wall and recognize that they can't keep holing everybody up and box us up. We've got to move forward. That's the key word - forward with the president for four more years."

Credit Steve Newborn
Steve Newborn
A little revelry

The mood had picked up considerably from earlier in the night. Then, Elwood Smith of Tampa was one of the first people at the party. Smith had a simple reason for supporting the president: He was deployed five times in Afghanistan, and supports plans to return the rest of the troops.

"I don't feel we should be over there, honestly," said Smith. "And I think it will be great once we bring all the soldiers back home and everything, because I know how rough it is over there, and what they're going through."

Alison Morano, vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party, told the crowd of several hundred it all came down to getting out the vote - despite efforts by the Governor and Republican-led Legislature  to restrict early voting.

"They did everything they could to stop us from voting," she said. "They stopped us in registration, they stopped us in early vote, they tried to stop us in vote by mail. We beat them every single time."

And that effort to get out the early vote was the difference in hotly-contested counties like Hillsborough, says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

"That's largely because of the early and absentee votes," Buckhorn said. "The Democrats in the Obama campaign really worked hard to push early and absentee votes. I think they were successful at it. I think the numbers are going to be off the charts in terms of performance."

Now comes the hard part - seeing if the politicians can live up to the expectations voters have placed in them.


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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