Cheryl Chow has picked the perfect location for her party: the Broderick building, which is not quite in Pioneer Square, and not quite in the International District. It's nowhere, just like Chow. The small room is packed with mostly Asian women and children. Chow's powerhouse mother, Ruby, sits against the wall like an empress dowager, barking orders to those serving up the food. The whole scene is a little surreal, apparently to Chow's supporters as well. One says, "I don't really know what Seattle voters want. Judy Nicastro really has no platform; but I don't know, I'm not really in touch." Chow tries to push all manner of delicious food on us -- including some potato salad, which is truly delicious -- apparently as a substitute for talking about the race. Spookiest of all, when a television news camera snaps on, a mess of children come out of nowhere to surround her. They beam at the camera like a human shield. Even a shield of children can't protect Cheryl from the voters.
The Big Picture restaurant is where ALL the beautiful people are, and Nicastro is definitely one of them. She looks stunning in a smart black suit and flawless hair. She's a little stressed but confident, even before all the votes are in. "I think I'm going to do pretty good," she says. "I don't think I'm going to spank Chow, though I think she'd probably like that, from what I hear about her and kids." The 150 or so people attending the party watch the results on a giant movie screen. Things are looking good for Nicastro, but we have to ask: On the off chance you lose, would you run again? "If Seattle doesn't elect me, Charlie, and Dawn, then Seattle is a conservative city. But the first thing I'm going to do is go to Mexico and sleep. All I want is a Piña Colada and a young boy nearby." I guess that clears up that lesbian thing. Or does it? When we ask her bomber-jacket-clad fiancé if he is sure she's not a lesbian, he says, "Yeah, as it turns out, yeah." Then he becomes very uncomfortable and turns to introduce Judy's mother.
Fancy wine glasses are clinking at Pageler's swank affair at Tulio Ristorante in the 5th Avenue Theatre downtown -- as much as you can hear them above the blaring cop show on the television. Despite the linen tablecloths, glowing candles, huge china plates, and endless bowls of gigantic shrimp (one member of The Stranger Death Squad is eating so many, he'll surely be sick tomorrow), people are absolutely glued to the tube. One bird-nosed woman in a long red dress leans across the table at one point and says, "If this was my world, cops would be the highest-paid people in America." Pageler -- dressed in a beige suit and black turtleneck -- is decidedly cool. She takes a break from sipping fine red wine with family and supporters to explain her magnificent voter appeal: "I have not had knee-jerk responses to the issues. Over time, I have gone for a broad appeal to the general public, which has worked. I think small side issues have dominated the campaign. The focus on the civility laws, for example, is rather narrowly focused. I want to focus on the big issues, like working with the county to fund services." After that, she gives a big French kiss to the woman in the red dress.
Firestone is looking very dapper -- almost Mafioso-like -- in his gray tweed suit and black shirt. There are a lot of white Rastas in attendance at this party at the Speakeasy downtown, and everyone's picking away at a spread of vegetarian fare, including spring rolls and homemade desserts. Firestone's losing big time, but he's playing it off. "Only seven percent of the vote doesn't tell you much," he says. He's very happy about the campaign he ran, and credits himself for drawing attention to the evils of Sidran's civility laws. "That in itself made this campaign a success," he says. "Win or lose, it's a success." Local attorney David Osgood -- who's been fighting against certain Sidran laws -- is less generous. "I find myself now rooting for 695, because if this is the council we're getting, I sure as hell don't want them to have the money to do anything."
The scene in the basement of Chong's West Seattle home, which boasts a spectacular view of downtown, looks like the aftermath of a Thanksgiving gorge-fest. A group of big fat guys are sitting around with their feet up, smoking cigarettes, drinking Bud, and watching the Sonics game. Things upstairs aren't much more eventful: a bunch of blue hairs eating macaroni salad and deli meats, with a few hippies thrown in for good measure. Chong is behind, but he takes time to congratulate The Stranger on getting opponent Heidi Wills' number: "Heidi kept saying the opposite," he says, none too revealingly. When it looks like Chong has lost, we ask him what he'd do with all his free time. "There's a new generation coming up," he says. Does that mean he's not going to run again? "I won't run again. But I'll help them run." Who's "them"? Young people? Matt Fox? "Yes, young people. I already tried to get Matt Fox to run, but he's not ready. He's still trying to be a rock star." What would have been the first thing Chong would have done had he been elected to office? "Get rid of the bus lane on the West Seattle bridge." Sounds like it's just as well.
Deep in the heart of Pioneer Square, we drop into the Heidi Wills party, only to be met by a few young "gangsta-toughs" loitering outside who ask, "Heidi? Heidi who? Fleiss?" However, a self-proclaimed "big Wills supporter" standing nearby leaps to her defense, with this snappy retort: "Heidi Wills is a lot better-looking than Heidi Fleiss -- and a lot more expensive!" The gentleman couldn't be more right, for Heidi is looking every inch the political superstar, dressed in a beautifully tailored dark-gray pantsuit, with impeccable makeup and hair, and gorgeous from top to bottom (especially the bottom). As we congratulate Wills on her victory, she thanks us profusely for attending, graciously agreeing that she should've been more "forthcoming" about the pot issue. We then challenge her to get high and eat Doritos with us. Meekly she agrees, with the worried look of a politician about to be bashed by The Stranger for the next four years. She can be sure of that, because a few minutes later, Mark Sidran walks in.
We catch up with Mason -- dressed in an all-white suit with black pumps and sporting a Liza Minnelli-style haircut -- just as she's leaving her party at the Center House at Seattle Center. She's losing the race, but she's making a show of confidence anyway, hopping nonchalantly into her maroon Mercedes Benz 300SL with her husband Joe. "If I can vote against 695 in this car, then anybody can!" she says just before speeding away. The Death Squad, in its haste to tail her to the Speakeasy, nearly nails her car.
In his squat cinder-block bunker on Minor Street, Jim Compton's campaign headquarters is surprisingly quite the family gathering. Though still early in the evening, the poster outside announces the gathering as the "Compton Victory Party," though Compton seems less sure. "I think... well, we'll see." he says. Then abruptly, before stalking off, he says, "I think we've got a good shot at it, that's all." The election seems to have taken its toll, as he appears rough and tired. Everyone gathers around a small TV set awaiting the results. "It's you that I love, and I owe this to," Compton gushes to his supporters. "We'll be talking about this for the next 20 years." Friends and family seem to be on the verge of tears, and the emotion in the room is palpable. We don't even like the guy, and we're moved. The first returns come in, and Compton laughs heartily, saying, "Can you believe this?" while hugging everybody. Five minutes later, in a small group of people, we overhear him talking in hushed tones, about how he's going to be sworn in Friday. Then he sees us, and adds with a cough, "Well... if this trend holds up." Pretty cocky.
It's not clear yet whether these folks will have much to celebrate, but in the meantime, the 100 or more people in attendance are doing an admirable job. The elementary school-style Labor Temple is packed with people of all sorts and sizes slugging down cocktails and mowing away on a generous spread of Costco treats: a proletarian combination of Chex mix, snickerdoodles, and chips and salsa. In attendance is a ruddy-faced and merry former governor Mike Lowry. When a member of The Stranger Election Death Squad explains to Lowry that he'd considered voting for I-695 just to fuck up Gary Locke's day, and that Locke amounts to a Dale Foreman (chair of the Republican party in Washington state) with a D after his name, Lowry laughs mightily and says, "You said that, not me," and walked away.
As we said, this race is so tight, it's not clear yet how it's going to come out. But the folks at this party are R-O-W-D-Y! The frat-partyesque gathering at the nouveau riche Bellevue Hyatt is packed with loud and proud conservatives giving each other the thumbs-up sign. "This is only the beginning of the taxpayers' revolts!" hollers one man into an Election Death Squad cell phone. In the Hyatt's brightly lit, mall-like atrium, smug car-owners hoping for cheaper tabs mill around congratulating each other, many donning "Steven Forbes for President" buttons. Paul Guay, a retired dentist from Maple Valley, is especially jolly. How many cars do you own? "Five cars," he says. "[With I-695] I'll save $710 on my 1998 SUV Tahoe, and a combined $80 on my two antique collector's cars! This is not about money! We'll make up for [the state's monetary loss] with the sales tax from the sale of new cars." A man wearing a blue Levi's shirt with a pot belly and bulging eyes cannot help but chime in. "This is about the common people paying the tab versus the aristocrats, the social elites!"