SEATTLE — Jay Inslee had not taken take the stage at the Seattle Westin tonight to proclaim victory in the Washington gubernatorial race, but that didn’t matter to the boisterous crowd surging up to the stage. Magnified on large screens on either side of his podium, voice cracking after weeks of hard campaigning, Inslee was barely audible over the frequent cheers of campaign workers and supporters.
It was when President Obama’s speech began to be live-streamed onto the same screens, alternately with the image of Inslee, that the latter succumbed to a long day and cries of “Obama! Obama!” and left the stage with his family and his supporters. Obama’s victory speech was punctuated by periodic bursts of applause and cheers by the crowd. On a night when the governor’s race remains too close to call with certainty, Democrats had no doubt about who their president will be for the next four years. As Obama ended his speech with the words “… we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America,” the crowd erupted in arm-waving, emotional approval.
Celebration at the landmark Seattle hotel was not confined to candidate races. Supporters of Referendum 74, which legitimizes gay marriage, also had cause to celebrate. “All LGBT youth will know that they’re loved and accepted by our society now,” said supporter Aaron Horton. A University of Washington student from Spokane who has helped work on the referendum campaign for the past six months, Horton added that he is excited at the prospect that he will not be constrained from marrying the person he chooses. “I’m excited to know that no one can tell me who to love,” he said.