Atmosphere somber at Janesville GOP watch party
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JANESVILLE About the only bright spot in a gathering of Republicans at the Holiday Inn Express Tuesday was after the announcement that their hometown boy, Paul Ryan, had won his Congressional election.
The atmosphere grew somber as people crunched numbers and started to realize Mitt Romney and Ryan might not win.
At about 9:45 p.m., Dan Conry urged people to keep a stiff upper lip and keep the good vibes going. Then he announced the good news, that Ryan had won re-election to his 1st Congressional District seat.
As the night went on and vice presidential hopes faded, many said their candidate still could pull out a victory.
Between 450 and 500 people sat at tables or gathered around five TVs, watching Fox News intently. They couldn't get the news fast enough.
Clapping was sporadic when TV anchors announced projections in their candidates' favor.
Jamin Arn knew it was going to be a tough election.
"I'm going to have hope," he said. "I believe in Paul (Ryan). I believe in Mitt."
"At the end of the day, we're all still Americans. We're going to get up and go to work and do what we do."
He said Ryan had inspired him to consider becoming more involved in politics.
John Lukan was wearing a Romney/Ryan shirt decorated with Republican buttons and a hat with stars and stripes. He said he believes being a Republican is in his DNA, and he laughed when he gave thanks that his children are conservative, too.
Lukan said he wouldn't give up until the ship had sunk.
Many families were there, some with their children.
"See the red up there?" Kim Niedfeldt of Roscoe, Ill., said to her daughters Allyson, 7, and Kaitlyn, 10, pointing to a U.S. map on TV. "That's what we're looking for."
Niedfeldt had worked for the Republican campaign office in Janesville.
Even though Tuesday was a school night, she wanted her daughters to witness an historic moment and what she said was an "extremely important election."
Niedfeldt, interviewed earlier in the evening, still believed Romney could pull it off but that the results would not be known today.
At 9:30 p.m., some watchers still were talking strategy and ticking off the numbers that could work in their favor.
"Now, he (Romney) has got to win Ohio and Florida," one said.
Bill Sodemann called the election a "nail biter" but seemed to see the writing on the wall.
"It looks like it's down to two states," he said. "We got to hit an inside straight right now."