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Republicans elated at Bush victory

by Sheila Gardner, Staff Writer

Beverly Willard wasn’t sure whether she would be attending the presidential inauguration in January in Washington, D.C.

As soon as the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for Texas Gov. George W. Bush to claim the presidential victory, Willard had her answer. She was going.

“I am thrilled beyond words,” said Willard, Nevada Republican national committeewoman.

Representatives of Douglas County’s political parties had mixed reactions to Bush’s victory.

“I am so relieved this is over,” Willard said Thursday. “I am just sorry the process took as long as it did. Next Tuesday, I will be among the observers when Nevada’s electoral college voters meet in Carson City. It’s a very exciting time.”

Willard, an Alpine View Estates resident, has had a front row seat in 2000 presidential politics.

She attended the GOP convention in Philadelphia and met President-elect Bush.

Willard, former chair of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, said she believes that Bush has the ability to bridge the bipartisan gap created during the long, drawn-out election process, and she hasn’t written off his presidency as one-term.

“I think it depends on how well he does over the next four years,” she said. “I feel he is a good leader based on the men and women he is in the process of choosing to help fill his cabinet. It seems to me a true leader is not afraid of people who have more experience or are more well-versed. A true leader chooses people based on what they can do.”

Willard said she will be in Washington attending the Republican National Committee winter meeting Jan. 17-19, and extended her stay until after the inauguration.

“I can hardly stand it,” she said. “I am so excited.”

Gail Turle, chair of the Douglas County Democratic central committee, said she isn’t ready to write off Vice President Al Gore, who won the nation’s popular vote but lost in in the Electoral College.

Turle agrees that the election raises the issue of the Electoral College process.

“The fact that all this happened exposed a lot of problems with politics, with the way people are elected, with the front-loaded primaries in that we know way in advance who will be the candidates, the need for campaign finance reform,” Turle said.

“Maybe, just maybe, this will get rid of the Electoral College. I don’t think this is what the founding fathers had in mind,” she added.

Turle believes that Gore will be back in 2004.

“He is a man of intelligence, integrity, vision and capability. He certainly is qualified to be president of the United States,” she said.

Turle added that she hoped Hillary Clinton will be the party’s candidate in 2008.

“I want to see a woman president in my lifetime,” she said.

Turle’s biggest concern about Bush is his environmental record.

“Being an environmentalist, I am really concerned about someone in office who, when interviewed by Audubon Magazine, referred to environmentalism as a ‘social fad.’ It’s not a social fad. It’s a very strong movement. Environmentalism is about our health and well-being. It’s about our quality of life and diversity among species,” she said.

Stewart Pardee first met the president-elect more than 30 years ago when they were in Air Force pilot training in Valdosta, Ga.

“He wasn’t a good friend,” Pardee said. “I knew who he was, I knew him to say, ‘hi.'”

Pardee, a Minden chiropractor who calls himself a “staunch Republican,” said Bush was “just one of the guys.”

“He was a great partyer,” Pardee said. “We partied in pilot training. We drank and had fun and he was just part of it. Jim Gibbons was there, too.”

“It’s interesting thinking back,” Pardee said. “It was the late 60s, and the craziness of the 60s was just getting going. We were really children of the 50s. Basically, we were all pretty conservative, kind of the ‘Right Stuff’ generation. The vast majority are very successful in their endeavors. We partied, we flew airplanes and we had a hell of a time.”

Pardee says he voted for Bush, but believed Gore would be a good President, too.

“I kind of wish Bush would name Al Gore secretary of state,” Pardee said. “I think Gore is a very dignified man. I would have had no problem with Al Gore as president.”