As the wins piled up, the mood at the Jefferson County Republican Party’s election night viewing event at the Galt House became increasingly celebratory.
In addition to winning the White House, Republicans retained control of Congress and for the first time in nearly 100 years won control of the Kentucky House and Senate as well.
The Galt House event acted as a forum and congregation space for the public, as well as Republican Party candidates who were running in local and state elections.
State Senator Ralph Alvarado, who was the event’s designated emcee and stage usher, said that he was glad to see and celebrate with his fellow party members.
“It’s a team effort,” Alvarado said. “A lot of us are all over the state. We’re not only in our own districts, but we also go out to help other people, so you get to see a lot of those folks: people you’re rooting for, and when they win the elections, you want to be there to congratulate them.”
Many of the Republican politicians attending the event cited the shift as attributing to the goal of Republican dominance on both a local and national level considering the likelihood of a Trump presidency, a Republican federal Congress, and likely resulting Republican nominee for the remaining Supreme Court justice.
These politicians, such as Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Congressional Senator Rand Paul, said that the shift would end partisan disagreements and benefit the state economy.
Bevin said that following 95 years of Democratic Party control of the state House, “this is a chance to celebrate a new direction for Kentucky.”
Bevin also expressed strong support for President-elect Donald Trump.
“I truly believe America is at a fork in the road, and this is not a game to me,” Bevin said. “It’s not about ‘Rs’ or ‘Ds,’ it’s not about men or women, it’s not about rich people versus poor people. It’s literally about what is the best direction for America; there’s no perfect candidate. Neither of those running for president was a perfect candidate, but I truly believe Donald Trump is a better alternative for America.”
Bevin attended the event to also introduce Jeff Hoover, the House representative for the state’s 83rd district and minority party leader who the Republicans have projected to become the new House speaker with the change in party power.
“Kentuckians went to the polls today in record numbers and . . . voted their values, and we make this promise to the people of Kentucky: those Republican values will be represented well by a new Republican majority,” Hoover said.
Rand Paul’s decisive win over Jim Gray for junior senator marked the beginning of the night as he gave his victory speech onstage surrounded by his campaign workers.
“While there is much that divides us, there is also a unique American hope for the future that unites us,” Paul said. “My hope is that we will find common ground. My hope is that we will rediscover that our prosperity is truly bound to our liberty.”
“I believe very strongly what Rand is fighting for: the entire Bill of Rights,” said Patrick Petsche, a volunteer organizer for Paul’s political campaign. “Rand fights for everything, the Constitution in general. He’s very principled and honest, and I think that’s very attractive to a lot of young people.”
Taylor Sims is a University of Louisville political science major and another campaign volunteer for Paul. She said that she tends to lean Republican when it comes to the two dominant political parties, but she identifies as a Libertarian.
“I voted for Gary Johnson. . . I just really believed in what he said, and I didn’t believe in the philosophy of ‘the lesser of two evils’,” Sims said about her general election presidential choice. “I knew the Libertarians weren’t going to win, but I wanted to help the party try to get that five percent vote to get federal aid and become a national minority party.”
There was a distinct variation between the reasons that party attendees gave to justify their general election votes, but overall, a majority of the attendees had voted for Trump or still rooted for him in the contest against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“I’m not as excited about Trump as our president as maybe I am about Governor Pence being our vice president. I really share his conservative values . . . and I think he has a better opportunity than Clinton to lead the country into some really positive areas,” Tim Hughes, a Republican who attended the viewing party, said.
“I’m a Trump supporter, and I’ve been keeping up with the campaign trail as much as I could as a millennial,” Justice Staggs, another party viewer, said. “I definitely support his immigration policy . . . I think that we’ll be headed in a good direction if he wins, especially from the stance of the Supreme Court and where it can and should go as far as getting more Republicans.”