King Street Patriots Party Hearty At The Rice Lofts

Finding a watch party in Houston for election night was a bit of a chore. About the only thing in town was Bill White's, and since Hair Balls already had that covered, we had to look elsewhere.

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Even the New Black Panthers can't stop us
We decided on the King Street Patriots' bash at the Rice Lofts' Crystal Ballroom, because, after all, it was billed as a gathering of "your conservative friends for a not so conservative celebration."

Here's a rundown of the night.

7:09 p.m.: Showed up and found the bar. Cash bar. Five dollar beers and calls for $8. Made us nostalgic for the days of Peter Brown watch parties that were stocked with free booze and kegs full of Saint Arnold. Where have the glory days gone? We blame Obama.

7:15 p.m.: Big screen and most televisions in the ballroom are tuned to Fox News. A little TV by the bar is set on CNN.

7:33 p.m.: The place is already filling up, but some people seem a little uneasy that Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of King Street Patriots, isn't here. Word is she's tied up at headquarters. Something about a run in with the Black Panthers.

7:35 p.m. Stage is set up for a full band. Lots of horns, drums and even an electric guitar. Banner above the stage says Ezra Charles and Google says Ezra Charles is actually Charles Helpinstill, maker of stage pianos and "jump blues" musician. This crowd is gonna get rocked.

7:45 p.m. Sat down and had a conversation with several Tea Partiers. Two men and a woman; men dressed in American and Texas flag shirts. The older man, Bob Sims, explained that in the 1980s he was involved with the local Democratic party. When the Democrats went liberal, he went Republican. Now he's had it with everyone. "We feel like it's a group dedicated to moving back to the Constitution."

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Bob Sims, Pat Sims and Stefan Libero: fed up with the government, foreigners.
His wife, Pat, explained it like this: "We're tired of foreigners coming to America, and we're having to live their lives. We shouldn't have to bow down to foreigners. They're taking away our Christmas, they're taking away our Nativity scenes."

8:04 p.m.: This place is freaking packed. Capacity of the ballroom is listed at 298, but if people keep pouring in, some people might have to stay outside. King Street Patriots have the room booked until midnight, and word around here is that they intend to party until the end.

8:12 p.m.: Fox News just announced that Republicans have control of the House. The room exploded into cheers. Sarah Palin on the screen now, but can't hear her over Ezra's boogie music. Still, crowd cheered louder.

8:40 p.m.: Just spoke to a table of four women who are involved with the Tea Party and King Street Patriots. One of the women, 65-year-old Wendy Hilton, was a poll watcher. "Do I look intimidating?" she asked us. Not really.

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Wendy Hilton (second from left), King Street Patriots poll watcher.
The ladies said they hadn't been involved much in politics before, but had shown up at the first Tea Party rally in Houston in February 2009. They're against all the money the government is wasting, behind-closed-doors deals and Sheila Jackson Lee.

"The Tea Party isn't a party, it's a movement," Hilton told us. "King Street Patriots is putting action behind the movement. We want the will of the people."

8:42 p.m.: Small crowd of people glued to the CNN television, watching Christine O'Donnell talk about her defeat. Sad.

9:11 p.m.: Everyone seems ready for Ezra to cut the music and for Engelbrecht to show up. Bill White is apparently giving his concession speech over at the convention center.

9:30 p.m.: Just talked to a young couple -- 25-year-old Ben Zwirek and 23-year-old Jessica Bowman. Zwirek, whose family owns Star Pizza, is a proud Tea Party supporter.

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Jessica Bowman and Ben Zwirek: young faces in the Tea Party movement.
"I'm a conservative, but there's no way I'm a Republican," Zwirek says. "It's government on all levels, it's out of control. The Tea Party is anti-establishment."

Zwirek and Bowman said they plan to stay involved with the Tea Party movement, adding that it's sad more young people don't do the same.

9:45 p.m.: Engelbrecht is here and takes the mic to speak to a standing ovation. She apologized for being late, but said it was the "brush with the Black Panthers" that held her up. Apparently, there will be video of an incident on the King Street Patriots Web site, but Engelbrecht didn't elaborate.

"We're excited to watch the results come in, and see the good news from coast to coast," Engelbrecht said. "But remember, the real work starts tomorrow."

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