Election Day, and their campaigns, came to an end for candidates Gail Gottlieb and Elizabeth Belcher, who joined members and friends of the East Hillsborough County Democratic Club at a watch party at Barnacles in Brandon.
There, people talked about their preferred candidates, their passion for politics and their concern for the country's challenges as they celebrated as well their right to vote.
- Local results for Greater Brandon area voters
- Presidential and state results for Greater Brandon area voters
"This is a celebration of all of our hard work and, for me, it's a celebration of my 60th birthday," said Angie Angel, the club's past president. "We're here waiting to see the fruits of our labor."
Club members waited long enough to learn that Democrat and club member Elizabeth Belcher lost her bid for the District 24 state Senate seat that Republican Tom Lee won.
Also, that club member Gail Gottlieb ended the night 1,236 votes behind Ross Spano, her Republican challenger for the District 59 seat in the Florida House of Representatives, which is being vacated by Rachel Burgin, who lost to Lee in the primary election.
"What's next for me? I'm going to Disney World, it's one of those bucket-list things," Belcher said. "I'm going to go to the African Safari, get a glass of wine, sit on the balcony and watch the animals."
She said she ran "because I felt there should be a choice, and I wanted ethics to come back [to Tallahassee]." Did she enjoy the campaign? "Very much. I enjoyed going out and meeting people and talking to them and listening to them."
Gottlieb ended the night hoping that an absentee-ballot count would garner enough votes to send her to the House. Spano at night's end had won the election by 1,236 votes.
Earlier in the night Gottlieb said she was greatly disappointed in a recent piece of campaign literature sent out on behalf of Spano, a Riverview attorney. The flier features photos of bomb-throwing terrorists and threatening demonstrators with the banner: "Gail Gottlieb - Way Too Liberal, Way Too Extreme, Not One of Us" and the tag: “Gail Gottlieb is trying to bring her radical chaos to Eastern Hillsborough County.”
"The flier was offensive, not just to me personally, but more important to middle-class Floridians who care about the environment, who care about ethics and who care about getting people back to work," Gottlieb said.
The Barnacles crowd was large as the night got under way and dwindled at the end, when it was an apparent go for President Barack Obama's re-election.
"I would like for the president to get re-elected, to carry on, so Romney won't try to repeal the health-care law," said Gifford Allison, a member of the club's board of directors.
Michele Yarbrough, a breast cancer survivor, issued a similar sentiment. "I'm okay, I'm good, but now I have a pre-existing condition so I need Obama to win," she said.
In all, the East Hillsborough County Democratic Club had four members running for office. Along with Belcher and Gottlieb, Bruce Barnett lost to Republican Jake Raburn in his bid for the newly created District 57 seat in the Florida House of Representatives. Mark Nash ran for the District 4 Hillsborough County Commission seat, which he lost to Repulican incumbent Al Higginbotham.
"Mark would have been a great county commissioner," said Lisa Rodriguez, who like Nash, graduated from Brandon High. "He loves Brandon and he would have cared about community, not development, and you can quote me on that."