Local incumbents hold on strong, despite nationwide changes

Republican Rep. David Dreier cruised to victory over his main challenger, Democrat Russ Warner, Tuesday night with 54.5% to 36.9%, according to the Los Angeles County registrar.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino trounced his main opponent, Republican Alvaro Day, 64.2% to 32.1%, with all precincts reporting.

"Part of what I'm blessed with is the bipartisan support that I get for my message, which is focus on education, focus on the economy and focus on fiscal responsibility, with certain core values such as protecting the environment," Portantino said. "Whether people are Republicans or Democrats, they want their children to get a good education, and they want a job."

Despite Portantino's win and other statewide Democratic victories, some local Republicans said they were satisfied that they'd made an impact at the ballot box.

"I think we shook a whole lot of people alive. I think we inspired a lot of people who would normally have let [voting] slide," said Marv Owen, a board member for the Republican Club of the Foothills.

The gains nationwide also helped inspire hope for the next major election, local Republicans said.

"We're getting ready for the big one in 2012, and this was an important trial run," said Mary Wollam, a longtime La Cañada resident and chairwoman of the Republican Club of the Foothills.

Republican or Democrat, there was a little something for everyone in Tuesday's election results.

Politically active La Cañada Flintridge residents who gathered at either Democratic or Republican election night celebrations in Pasadena each found reason to cheer, with Democrats picking up most major state offices and Republicans watching nationwide victories give the GOP control over the House of Representatives.

Local Democratic campaign volunteers gathered at the Burgers Continental restaurant to congratulate Portantino on defeating Day while watching CNN and KTLA 5 name Jerry Brown as the new governor and Sen. Barbara Boxer the reigning incumbent over their cash-flush Republican challengers.

"We put a lot of effort into the Democratic campaign and it seems to be paying off," said Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club President Dana Runge.

Republicans partied with Day and local Tea Party organizers in a ballroom at the historic Castle Green, where they stayed glued to FOX News for nationwide election coverage.

"We had so many people behind us, and I love the enthusiasm in the room," Day said. "The national results are truly inspiring."

Also finding a glass half-full — despite Republican takeover of the House — was Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club past President Celina Lew, who said she and others started leaving handbills on doorsteps before sunrise Tuesday.

"I'm happy California will continue to be progressive and be a model for the country," she said. "We had so many more volunteers than during the last governor's race."

Precinct reports were not available at press time, but citywide voter turnout appeared to be high throughout the day.

"It's been busy, better than we've seen in a long time," said Sally Emerson, a volunteer poll worker at the La Cañada Flintridge Library, which hosted two city voter precincts.

Turnout was "about as good as we saw in the 2008 presidential election," added husband and fellow volunteer Richard Emerson.

At 4 p.m., one precinct had counted 420 of some 1,500 registered voters showing up, and the other had recorded 177 voters of a possible 800.

Many La Cañada residents cast absentee ballots by mail.

Runge, president of the Cañada Crescenta Democratic Club, said she noticed political fatigue giving way over the past week to election fever.

"With early campaign phone calls, we discovered voters not very engaged in the issues, but by the end, the energy level went up across the board," she said. "It's been a lot of hard work, but well, well worth it."

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