Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stepped down the long, narrow staircase to the main floor of Abe & Jake's Landing and was quickly surrounded.
Some 150 Democrats, who were throwing an election-night party Tuesday at the nightclub at 8 E. Sixth St., filled it like revelers at Mardi Gras.
"It's a little crazy tonight," Sebelius said, sipping a glass of merlot. "It's a lot less crazy than when I'm on a ballot. I get to be a little more relaxed."
Over at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, 1012 Mass., the mood was more mellow. About a dozen Douglas County Republicans gathered there to watch cable news election coverage on a television in the dining area.
Chris Miller, chairman of the Douglas County Republican Party, said he was watching all the races, except ones with unopposed candidates. "We don't discount anybody until the votes are in," he said.
Asked if he felt good about his party's chances in local and national races, Miller said, "Absolutely. Ask me again in a couple hours, and I'll tell you whether I'm still optimistic or not."
Back at the nightclub, Paul Davis, who was running uncontested in House District 46, was talking to Sebelius.
"I'm a little nervous," he said, watching the big screen blaring election results. He was watching Nancy Boyda's bid for the U.S. House seat in the 2nd District. "She's going to need a lot of moderate Republicans to vote for her."
Davis took the stage with fellow Democrats just as President Bush's face appeared on the screen behind him. The crowd booed and hissed.
For a moment, Davis looked stunned. Then he turned around.
"You guys think we should just send him back to Texas?" he asked.
The crowd cheered.
Eventually, Sebelius took the microphone.
"Douglas County is a well-oiled machine," she said. "The Bush victory in Kansas is a lot different than it was four years ago."
The crowd cheered and applauded as Sebelius stepped down, posed for pictures and rushed away, heading to Overland Park for a stop at Rep. Dennis Moore's victory party.
At Red Lyon Tavern, 944 Mass., a mostly Democratic crowd sat at tables watching election coverage on the big-screen television over the bar's doors. Balloons with anti-Bush logos decorated the entrance.
Smoking cigarettes outside the bar, Rae Watson and Sherry Warren discussed the election. Warren said she felt "neurotic" with worry about the presidential race.
"Isn't it all determined by the Illuminati?" deadpanned Jeff Supernaw, joining them, referring to a shadowy conspiratorial organization that supposedly controls world affairs behind the scenes. Supernaw, a Kerry supporter, said it was a "tough question," whether he'd prefer Bush to win cleanly Tuesday night or have Kerry eke out a victory through months-long legal battles.
Waiting for his carryout order at Buffalo Wild Wings, Army Sgt. Didier Champagne said he voted for Kerry because of the Iraq war.
"The way it was done was wrong," Champagne said. "A friend of mine just got deployed (to Iraq). He just e-mailed me. He's supposed to come home this month. He said he'll be back probably in February."
At Harbour Lights, 1031 Mass., Melinda Stewart watched the television above the bar despite music blaring from the jukebox overpowering the sound. "I'm real excited about the election, because everyone's paying close attention," the KU junior said.
Justice for Children, a group formed to oust District Judge Paula Martin, gathered at It's Brothers Bar & Grill, 1105 Mass. Mary Lou Reardon, a schoolteacher, was one of about 10 people in the group. For her, the Martin retention referendum mattered more than the presidential race.
"I've never been politically active before this issue," she said.