The night began in prayer. For many, it probably ended the same way. Few alternatives remained to those at the “Victory Watch Party hosted by the Dallas Country Republican Party” as they experienced a disquieting mixture of jubilation, frustration and apprehension.
Earlier in the evening, spirits were unadulterated and soaring. A cardboard, 6-foot Donald Trump welcomed guests, upon arrival, with two thumbs up. Inside the ballroom, music boomed and the lights glowed Republican red. An 80-foot screen played live election coverage via Fox News, NBC and ABC; smaller televisions in back of the room projected county-by-county results. Cheers, backslaps, and high-fives followed Republican victories — curse words followed news of the defeats.
The chairwoman of the Dallas County Republican Party, Missy Shorey, welcomed guests in her opening speech and congratulated donors on their collective contributions exceeding $7.3 million. She then thanked the candidates, party leadership and volunteers for their time, commitment and hard work, and invited all to sit back, relax and enjoy the victory party. Emphasis on victory.
Beneath the façade of high spirits, however, loomed the specter of defeat. One man – a half Hispanic, gay member of the Log Cabin Republicans – speculated that no one in the room felt confident about a Ted Cruz victory. Meanwhile, Republican candidates Pete Sessions, Faith Johnson, Don Huffines and Aaron Meek trailed early on – and permanently – in their respective races.
Congressman Session’s defeat disappointed Dawna Walsh, an avid volunteer for his campaign. She was comforted though by the fact that Republicans will have another chance in 2020. Meek appeared confident early in the evening, chatting, joking and laughing with his wife and fellow officers. His smile slowly disappeared as the night progressed.
Not all was defeat however. J.J. Koch won a seat on the Dallas County Commissioners Court, making him the sole Republican on the court. He delivered a victory speech to the crowd, thanking his wife and two children for their love, and the numerous volunteers for their time and support.
Then, of course, there was the Cruz victory. When The Associated Press called the race for Cruz, the room erupted into cheers. Willie O’Brien, a Hispanic volunteer for the Cruz campaign, jumped up and down for an entire minute while releasing ecstatic hoots. The Texas Women for Trump Coalition – a group of eight or ten women in red dresses – applauded incessantly for five minutes.
Despite the numerous defeats at the state, local and national levels, the Republicans almost certainly gathered a victory of morale as they watched Cruz deliver his victory speech from Houston.