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Election notebook: At Lucas Oil Stadium with Mike Pence


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Mike Pence's campaign officials were projecting the gubernatorial candidate to give his acceptance speech between 8 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, or about two to three hours after the polls were scheduled to close.

But the heavily favored congressman had a long night: Pence took the stage just before 11 p.m., an indicator of how close his battle with his Democratic opponent John Gregg really was.

At times during the evening, Gregg even pulled slightly ahead. Polls leading up to election night had shown a tightening race, but the race ended up closer than most had projected.

According to the Indiana Secretary of State's Office, Pence ended up getting 49.8 percent of the votes, to Gregg's 46.3 percent. Libertarian Rupert Boneham got 3.9 percent. Boneham collected 94,607 votes, more than the difference between Pence and Gregg, which was 84,406.

By the time Pence took the stage to speak, many attendees had left the party in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For some, it was because they had brought children, and the results were delayed long past the little ones' bed time. Others, wearing red shirts to support Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, had left disappointed because he was defeated.

SENATE RESULTS: When Fox News called the Indiana Senate race for Democrat Joe Donnelly around 9:36 p.m., lots of Republicans stared in disbelief. Others shook their heads in disgust, and some even voiced strong words of displeasure.

EMPTY SEATS: U.S Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller gave acceptance speeches around 9 p.m., but many of the seats in front of the stage were empty. Revelers still were mingling on the stadium's mezzanine, eating pizza, chili dogs and popcorn while chatting or watching the TV feed.

FROM SILENCE TO THUNDER: Around 10 p.m., the TV feed at Lucas Oil broadcast the acceptance speech of Democratic Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly, plunging the stadium, especially the few remaining Richard Mourdock supporters, into hushed silence. The atmosphere pivoted quickly, however, when shortly after the conclusion of Donnelly's speech, an announcer called the gubernatorial race in Mike Pence's favor. The crowd erupted into applause, fists pumping into the air and shouts of "Yes!"

YOUTH TAKE IT ALL IN: The crowd at Lucas Oil consisted mostly of adults, wearing suits or party dresses, but a few young adults and teenagers mingled with them, although not all were die-hard Republicans.

Mackenzie Cook, 20, of Indianapolis, attended the event at the invitation of her mother. The lifeguard at the Caribbean Cove Hotel & Conference Center was involved in the election this year primarily to support a Republican candidate for Pike Township Advisory Board. In the Senate race, for example, she said she supported Donnelly. She also said she did not support presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

However, Cole Smith, 17, a high school senior who lives on Indianapolis' west side, said he came to support Romney, Mourdock and Pence, primarily. Though he could not vote in this election because of his age, he said he and his parents worked in call centers and distributed campaign materials to support Republican candidates.

Smith said he likes Republicans primarily because of social issues, including their opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights.

"I will not support any candidate that's not pro-life," he said.

TRANSITION TIME: Mike Pence's campaign announced Wednesday that the governor-elect had appointed his Chief of Staff Bill Smith as head of his transition team. The campaign said other announcements would follow this week.

Republic reporter Boris Ladwig has been covering the governor's race this fall for The Republic. He attended the Indiana Republican Party's election-night event Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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