Amid life-sized cutouts of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, Republicans gathered in a backroom at the Daily Grill in Santa Monica on Tuesday night to watch Fox News election returns on two large screens.
The mood was festive as the evening kicked off with drinks and appetizers and the waiters set down oversized plates of pasta and chicken on tables decorated with red, white and blue tinsel centerpieces.
Richard and Lauren Gordon sat at a back table, nursing drinks. Richard, a business owner is a Romney supporter; Lauren, director of a child advocacy organization, is a die-hard Democrat. Their three children — the youngest is 17 — are split.
“We try to be open and respectful of each other,” Lauren said, acknowledging that election season gets exciting. “We respect each other’s opinions, and we do a lot of fact checking. It makes for very interesting conversation.”
The couple came to support Robert Kronovet, a Republican who found out after the party that he had lost his bid to be reelected to the Santa Monica Rent Control Board, which he sat on since 2008. Kronovet co-hosted the party with American Freedom Alliance, Santa Monica Republican Headquarters Committee and Westside Republicans.
While the crowd let out whoops and cheers as Fox News projected North Carolina and then Missouri for Romney, the mood quickly sobered as a reporter announced in a dour voice that Ohio was projected to land in Obama’s column.
Cries of “no” and “boo” arose, and a brief resurgence of energy came with Fox’s announcement that the Republican Party had not yet given up on Ohio.
But as the evening wore on, some people mouthed, “It’s over,” and left the party.
Kronovet — whose vaguely New York accent and cheery irony could make him a character on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — wasn’t surprised with how the election turned out.
“The Republican Party has got to step away from women’s health issues and let the world know it’s not our business. We have enough problems. I know about all the issues, and what the Orthodox say, and I’m a Chabadnik, but losing an election like this is silly — it’s just silly. The party needs to get back to the very basics,” Kronovet said, stopping now and then to shake a hand and offer reassurance to supporters.
The Republican social platform leaves little room for moderates, he said.
“There may be Democrats who like the Republican economic policies, but when they throw something in their face that is so repulsive, they’re going to get the same results every time,” he said.
Kronovet had his share of supporters in the room, both Republicans and Democrats, who agreed with his stance on rent control.
“I try to represent the housing providers. And I try to be gracious and bring a balance of supply and demand,” he said.
Kronovet said he is not despondent about Obama’s win. He said that historically, second-term presidencies have been better for the economy.
“I hope Obama does well. I don’t want him to do badly. What kind of schmuck wants the president to do badly?” Kronovet said. “That’s stupid — that’s a horrible thing to say. Ridiculous. But I know people who want that.”
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