The polls weren't yet closed and Thurston County Republicans were already celebrating tonight at the Ramada Inn Governor’s House in Olympia. A few dozen of the local GOP were thronged in front of televisions a few minutes ago – many with drinks nearby – when I stopped in.Expectations are high for gains across the map.
"It's going to be a good night," said county GOP chairman Scott Roberts, voicing words his party doesn't often get to say on Election Day in Thurston County. But he's hopeful of gains by his party in Congress, he thinks it could win back control of the Legislature and he thinks all of the Republicans running for county courthouse positions have a shot. He's also high on Dino Rossi's chance of beating Sen. Patty Murray.
One of the GOP's best prospects is Tom Nelson, challenging appointed Democratic treasurer Shawn Myers. Republican state Rep. Gary Alexander said he thinks Nelson will win, giving his party at least a second county-wide official alongside Auditor Kim Wyman.
Alexander said party members are excited by the news tonight that Republicans are taking back the U.S. House, and he's hopeful his caucus can pick up 10 seats in the state House. "We're going to get some seats," he said. "My number is about 10. Some people say we'll get 14. We'll see. If we pick up 10 we'll be in a much better position for negotiations."
Today, Democrats control the state House 61-37 (with one of the Republicans, Tom Campbell, often siding with Democrats). And Democrats control the Senate 31-18.
Of course we might not know the real breakdown after this election for a couple of days.