Walking into the ballroom of the Hyatt, I expected to be greeted by a crowd full of a careless energy, with drinks and merriment flowing as the GOP faithful watched their slate ascend to each statewide office.
What I found was a largely empty room. That would change however. It was 6:45 p.m. and the room hadn’t opened to the public yet. Many prominent Republican candidates had rented suites on the second and third floors of the Hyatt for individual pre-party parties. That was where the action was.
As I headed up stairs, I happened by a room with a small sign that said “Ben Quayle for Congress.” Just as I thought I had lucked into a party no one knew was going on yet with one of this year’s more controversial candidates, I was greeted by an older gentleman in a cowboy hat and a woman wearing a “Quayle for Congress” T-shirt at the door. And that was it. No Ben, no party, nothing.
Disappointed, I recalibrated my internal compass to direct me to the suite level of the hotel.
GOP Corporation Commission candidates Gary Pierce and Brenda Burns had erected a grease board in their suite, with room to manually update all the totals for the statewide candidates. The biggest pictures on the board were, of course, for the Corporation Commission candidates.
Doug Ducey’s suite, disappointingly short on ice cream, was jammed packed with supporters. He said he felt like his time leading ColdStone Creamery had built “a reservoir of goodwill with voters” and that running on his resume would resonate with the electorate.
He wouldn’t specifically predict a win, saying “We have to get across the finish line first.”
Back in the steadily filling main ballroom at the Hyatt, Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen said that even if the GOP-wave materializes as expected across the country, he doesn’t take it to mean voters are clamoring for Republicans to be in office.
“I would not take from this that voters are endeared with Republicans,” he said. “Voters are upset with Obama.”
He acknowledged that voters seemed to be fed up in general. “Voters are going to give us another chance, we better live up to it,” Pullen said.