Baltimore County Republicans gathered to watch the returns last night in Essex, a GOP stronghold where the party faithful became more convinced the election was in the bag for Donald Trump.
While a DJ spun tunes from the 60s and 70s, about five dozen people ate pizza and watched the returns on a big screen at Commodore Hall in Essex. And they liked what they were seeing, as tossup states started to fall in line for Donald Trump.
"Well I think the Trump train is going nationwide," predicted Steve Dishon, who has served on the Baltimore County GOP Central Committee. "He’s already ahead in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. And that’s a slam dunk."
In the end, Hillary Clinton did pull out Virginia, but Victor Maennik also liked Trump’s chances early in the evening as the results were trickling in.
"I like his policies. I like the things he has to offer," Maennik said. "The other side has all this opportunity and chance to do change and nothing ever came about of anything positive."
Yet, despite this bitterly divisive election, Republican State Senator Johnny Ray Salling saw hope for bipartisanship. And for supporters of Clinton who cannot imagine President Trump, Salling says the people who voted for the Republican nominee did so because they believe in him.
He recalled having lunch with Trump as "a rare moment in life to talk with him."
"He was a reasonable man," Salling said. "He wanted to hear what I had to say. He didn’t dominate the conversation."
The gathering was also the election night party for Pat McDonough, who failed in his effort to unseat Second District congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.
McDonough got a standing ovation when he made his entrance and despite the numbers, he told the crowd the election still hung in the balance.
"We don’t know anything," he insisted. " We know four precincts in Dundalk. And we won all four of them."
In the end, Ruppersberger won by a two to one margin, but McDonough did not concede. For his next act, he plans to run for Baltimore County Executive. And he says he is in a better position now to do that.
"We got notoriety, we got exposure, we got experience," he said. "We got a lot of financial supporters. Picked up a tremendous number of volunteers."
McDonough roundly criticized Governor Larry Hogan for not doing more to help Republicans like himself. Hogan refused to support Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, and other Republicans, like McDonough, who supported Trump.
A Hogan spokesman revealed the governor’s choice for president. He wrote in his father, a former congressman from Prince Georges County.