First black president in office

Sen. Barack Obama claimed victory Tuesday night after a historic race against Sen. John McCain.

Obama won in Leon County by 24 percent, according to the Leon County supervisor of elections Web site.

Florida A&M University students were ecstatic about the announcement.

Willie Hayes, 18, a freshman computer engineering student from Tampa, was one of these students.

“When I heard the results, all I could do was run and shout,” Hayes said. “This opens up a lot of doors for black men … as long as they put their mind to it.”

Kevin Cate, Obama’s spokesman, said Florida was an important state in the election.

“Florida’s role in the election was crucial for Sen. John McCain,” Cate said. “Sen. McCain was forced to do a lot of campaigning in a state that should have been given to him. It was no way he could win the White House without Florida. Obama had several avenues to the White House.”

The Obama campaign was confident going into the election. He said volunteers and supporters worked hard for Obama to win.

A Democratic election watch party was held at the Moon Nightclub on Tuesday night. Supporters grew emotional as key states were announced in favor of Obama.

“This is a long time dream that a black man could be chosen as president of the United States,” said Annette Thorpe, a retired FAMU employee.

Thorpe, 88, said she began dreaming about a black man being president during the time of Martin Luther King Jr.

“I began to dream this could happen since the civil rights movement,” she said. “What I’ve dreamed for has become a reality.”

The reality was disturbing for some Republicans. Dan Abel, Leon County Republican Party Chairman, was not happy with the news of Obama’s win.

“I was very disappointed,” Abel said. “I would have liked to see the opposite happen.”

The Democratic watch party was hosted by chair of the Leon Democratic Party, Rick Minor.

Mayor John Marks was one of the speakers at the event.

Marks told the crowd of Obama supporters that eight years of no change has to end.

“We’re going to take back this country,” Marks said. “The eight years of nothingness in this country has got to go.”

The crowd cheered as Marks repeatedly said, “Fired up and ready to go.”

“We’re going to have to work with Obama, support him, and make sure that he is the best president ever in America,” he said.

Erica Butler and Mark Taylor II Contributed to this story.