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As candidates wait for results, their supporters gather at political parties

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2012 - Among women who were elated about Sen. Claire McCaskill's showing in her race against GOP candidate Todd Akin were Erin Kirwan, a nurse and Pam Morgan, a law student. They were among people filling the Pageant theater in St. Louis Tuesday night, watching the returns on giant screens, having drinks and enjoying themselves as they awaited Gov. Jay Nixon's appearance at his own party at the Pageant.

"I knocked on doors for Clare McCaskill six years ago and I did it again this year," Kirwan said. "You got to talk the talk. I'm a nurse and I care about health care and I especially care about health care for women."

Minutes later, some news reports declared McCaskill the apparent victor, an announcement that resulted in cheering among those at the Peagant. (Robert Joiner, Beacon staff)

8:46 p.m., Chase Park Plaza Hotel

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel made a brief appearance at the election watch party for Democratic candidates Claire McCaskill (U.S. Senate) and Susan Montee (lieutenant governor).

"I have a long night ahead. We're going to have a lot of victories tonight," said Zweifel, who was seeking re-election.

Zweifel thanked the campaign workers, telling them "You made this happen, you brought us here tonight. Congratulations to each of you." (Mary Delach Leonard | Beacon staff with Elizabeth Bartek | intern)

8:45 p.m., The Pageant

Mayor Francis Slay seemed pleased by the turnout as he shook hands and expressed confidence that Democrats would do well statewide.

"Democrats seem to be doing well at the state level," he said. "I'm encouraged by the tremendous turnout especially with the help from St. Louis Democrats."

Slay says he's keeping his fingers crossed that Proposition A in particular will pass, giving St. Louis control over its Police Department.

Richard Callow, a political consultant for Slay, said that the vote for Proposition A was looking good for St. Louis. Callow said that giving control of the police department to the city would create safer neighborhoods, increase accountability and result in better police officers. (Bob Joiner | Beacon staff, with Dan Fox | Intern)

8:32 p.m. Chase Park Plaza

Marilyn Pavia and her daughter Lisa Adams were optimistic as they waited for news at the watch party for Democratic candidates Sen. Claire McCaskill and Susan Montee who was running for lieutenant governor.

The St. Peters women volunteered for McCaskill and said they felt voters had as much enthusiasm for her as they did in 2008. 

"But Missouri is not a Democratic state,'' Pavia said of her experience knocking on doors and telephoning voters.

Toni Wells of St. Louis County said she supported McCaskill's re-election because she was concerned about the views voiced by Rep. Todd Akin, McCaskill's Republican opponent.

"He is so out of touch with reality, and I think that is dangerous. It could set us back 200 years," Wells said.

8:30 p.m., Frontenac Hilton

Mimi Hiemenz was optimistic that her candidate for U.S. Congress, Republican Ann Wagner, would win Tuesday night. Hiemenz had been volunteering for the campaign since last summer. She lauded Wagner for her fiscal responsibility and said that she can work with both sides.

"I think she's a very good representative for the Republican Party because she can connect with all people," Hiemenz said. (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

8:26 p.m., Doubletree Hotel, Chesterfield

Around 8 p.m., Lisa Merrell sat down with her 8-year-old and a very late dinner. The mother of four came to St. Louis from Nashville on Sunday along with 130 to 150 11-to-19 year-olds. The young people are part of a group called Generation Joshua and came from South Dakota, Idaho and Mississippi to get out the vote for Rep. Todd Akin.

"We feel like we support what he stands for," Merrell said. "He's a former home school dad, we are home school families. He stands for life, and we are for life."

Akin had a rough time after his "legitimate rape" statements this summer, Merrell said, and thinks he was misunderstood.

"We also feel like there are some people in the Republican Party that should have stood up for him but did not," she said.

What that did, however, was mobilize moms such as her and her friends here to call each other, get together and decide to give their children a very real and tangible civics lesson, knocking on doors, making hundreds of calls, and standing up for what they believe in. (Kristen Hare, Beacon staff)

8:20 p.m., The Pageant

Gov. Jay Nixon’s wide appeal will help him win the race, according to Nixon’s treasurer Craig Hosmer. Hosmer said that support for Nixon runs strong through all areas of the state and that a large number of Republicans are supporting the Missouri governor.

Hosmer pointed out that a key selling point for Nixon was his handling of the state in its darker hours, such as the Joplin tornado. Hosmer said Nixon kept strong people in office around him, and that this went a long way toward helping with that disaster.

Hosmer also said that he is optimistic in regard to the other Democratic candidates winning their elections. He feels strongly about Claire McCaskill and President Barack Obama winning their race. Hosmer did say he feels the secretary of state position isn’t as secure for the Democrats as the other candidates. (Bob Joiner | Beacon staff, with Dan Fox | Intern)

8 p.m., Frontenac Hilton

Missouri GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence popped in on his party at the Frontenac Hilton for a few minutes to thank his supporters, who cheered his entrance. But most of his message was all about the family.

After introducing his wife, Suzanne, and his four children, Spence joked that during his campaign across Missouri, he may not have met every resident, but he’s "seen every cow."

Suzanne Spence took the mic to tell the crowd that her husband and family are "doing what our Founding Fathers meant" by becoming involved in politics and participating in this race. "We’re just an ordinary family trying to do something extraordinary." (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

7:41 p.m., Doubletree Hotel, Chesterfield

Seated in the front row at Rep. Todd Akin's watch party in Chesterfield, brothers Tom and Jerry Roemer of St. Charles have supported Akin for more than a decade. Jerry Roemer, left, proudly wore a red and blue Akin hat that read "Vote November 7, 2000."

"He's a good Christian man," Jerry Roemer said. "He's a good man for defense, and I was in the Marine Corps, and so was he," Roemer says, gesturing to his brother. "And he doesn't like killing babies."

Roemer and his brother have long told their old friend that he'd one day be a senator, and today, Jerry Roemer woke up at 5 a.m. and worked at polling places all day to help make that happen. Both men felt Akin's chances tonight were good.

Akin's a good man, Jerry Roemer said, very honest, and sometimes a little naive. Roemer thinks he got tricked into the "legitimate rape" comments that have brought the campaign national attention.

"I gotta talk to him," Jerry Roemer said. "I've gotta tell him, don't ever do that again, Todd, you're killing me." (Kristen Hare, Beacon staff)

7:31 p.m., Frontenac Hilton

Dave Spence's party begins to fill up. (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

7:21 p.m. Khorassan Ballroom, Chase Park Plaza Hotel

"Things are good, but we're taking nothing for granted," says McCaskill's spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki.

She said the campaign is watching polls in Kansas City and St. Louis where voters are still waiting in line to cast their ballots. (Mary Delach Leonard, Beacon staff)

7:20 p.m. Ambassador Room, Frontenac Hilton

Kathy Rosario is here at the Ann Wagner election-night party with her daughter Autumn and son Conner. Autumn is learning about elections in school at Bellerive Elementary.

“I thought it would be fun to bring her here to see an election party and also to to watch the returns here, because we don’t have cable at home,” Rosario said.

Tonight’s watch party won’t give Autumn points in class but it’s a good extra-credit activity, her mother said. Will Wagner win tonight, in Autumn’s opinion? “I’m not really sure,” she said. (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

6:36 p.m., Frontenac Hilton

Supporters of Missouri gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence are trickling into the Clayton Ballroom of the Frontenac Hilton.

Judy Sapienza, who used to  babysit frequently for the Spence children, and her husband Joe Sapienza have known the Spences for some 15 years. They’re predicting success and Judy Sapienza is crediting Suzanne Spence as the wind beneath the campaign’s wings.“They say behind every man is a great woman, and Suzie is that woman,” Judy Sapienza said.

Another early guest, Leslie Shaw, called Spence a “good family man.” She was hopeful but afraid to be overly optimistic about tonight’s outcome.

“I’m nervous,” Shaw said. “But I think he’ll win.” (Nancy Fowler, Beacon staff)

6:30 p.m. Khorassan Ballroom, Chase Park Plaza

The ballroom is set up and ready for the election watch party for Democrats Sen. Claire McCaskill and Susan Montee, candidate for lieutenant governor.

The party is scheduled to begin after the polls close at 7 p.m.

McCaskill, a first-term senator, is hoping to fend off a challenge from U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood. Montee, a former state auditor is challenging incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican seeking his third term. (Mary Delach Leonard, Beacon staff)

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