Anticipation was in the air at a Republican election-watch party hosted by Magnum Entertainment in Union Station Tuesday night.
And at the moment when Fox News, playing on a large screen in the corner of the sizeable ballroom, called Iowa for Republican Joni Ernst, the place erupted in a cathartic cheer drowning out the live band, which had been playing classic rock tunes all evening.
The drinks were flowing from the open bars and staffers were hugging, high-fiving as well as taking pictures in order to savor the moment.
Republicans last controlled the Senate eight years ago — with Republicans living under the thumb of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ever since.
“It’s been too long,” one staffer was heard exclaiming.
In 2010, Republicans came close to reclaiming the majority, but despite defending just 10 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 23, the GOP made a series of missteps that put the Senate majority out of reach and even resulted in the party losing two of their own seats to Democrats and one to a Democratic-leaning Independent.
On his way out of the party Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, said that compared to the gaffe-prone 2012 candidates, this crop were just better.
“Candidates matter; who runs for office is important,” Moran said. “They need to be people that the voters of their states trust and we recruited and encouraged good people to run. They ran good campaigns and it results in success.”
Moran was jubilant, receiving congratulations from many in the room, and at one point hugging NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins.
Earlier, after Fox News called Colorado for Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who defeated incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., the crowd let out another loud cheer.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who is the NRSC’s Vice Chairman for Finance, addressed the crowd shortly after proclaiming that the GOP on the cusp of a historic victory that would allow them, with the Republican-run House, to send their agenda to the White House.
“One to go to fire Harry Reid, what do you think about that?” Portman said to the raucously cheering crowd.
Portman and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who appeared with him, thanked the crowd for their support.
“Thank you for what you’ve done,” Wicker told the crowd, as he thanked Portman for his fundraising prowess. “The fact this it is close tonight makes what you contribute, the money, the effort…helps us win these close races. We are going to have a good, good night, we are going to have a good two years.”
Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.