To survive San Diego election night as a reporter you need to be well rested, well fed, well dressed and, above all else aggressive. Our team of four broadcast journalists – Greta Wall, Marissa Hornaday, Sam Watkins and myself, with the help of our trusty cameraman Angel Zamora – walked into the Civic Center’s Golden Hall in Downtown San Diego around 7 p.m. with two cameras, three microphones, four XLR cables and five batteries in hand.
The convention was set up like a flee market where you walk a large crowded room lined by booths of different vendors who wave you down and shout their amazingly low prices while shoving egg rolls on toothpicks in your face. Instead of vendors and booths, TV news stations set up stages staffed with production teams and hungry reporters grabbing and hunting down congressmen and women to bring onto their sets for interviews.
Our Point TV team set our strategic plan in motion. Our smallest but fiercest team members, Marissa Hornaday and Samantha Watkins, would run the Golden Hall floor, Angel tailing them with a camera, and snatch up an interview with any member of congress or San Diego City Council member who came through the front doors. Greta Wall and I set out in search of the campaign parties for candidates of the 52nd District race: Democratic incumbent Scott Peters and Republican candidate Carl DeMaio.
As the polls came to a close, Golden Hall began to fill up with supporters, public relations advisers and angry activists wielding “Impeach Obama” signs. We knew that DeMaio was hiding out at the U.S. Grant Hotel and Peters at the Gaslamp Westin but had no idea what time either of them would be making an appearance.
At 9:15, Greta and I took to the streets, fast walking in high-heeled boots with Greta lugging the tripod and our Panasonic HD camera dangling from my right arm. First, we hit Peters’ headquarters at the Westin. We hustled into a tiny room crammed with supporters and reporters at the exact moment Peters was introduced on stage. We hurriedly set up the camera and tripod and filmed his speech.
After, we were ready to move on to the U.S. Grant where DeMaio was set to give a speech at 10 p.m. but suddenly realized we forgot a very important item: a microphone! We ran back to Golden Hall and grabbed a hand-held microphone then quickly requested a Lyft from the car service app and told our driver to step on it. Minutes later we went running into the hotel and were reassured by a KBPS reporter that we hadn’t missed anything.
After about an hour and a half of standing around and jabbering with fellow TV news professionals, DeMaio finally came on stage to rally his troops. We waited, watching the vote count, until midnight but the race was still to close to call. By the end of the night we were beat and could feel the adrenaline and caffeine fading from our bodies.