New attorney general and president for Dems

Jeff Russ

VIEW a photo gallery of reactions to Obama’s win in Columbus.

Columbus resident Clefton Jackson said he realizes Barack Obama’s election is bigger than him.

“It’s for the generations before me. This for my father and my father’s father. It’s a whole new day. We are getting change, and we need change,” Jackson said.

Jackson celebrated with other Democratic supporters at the Ohio Democratic election watching party at the Renaissance Hotel in Columbus.

Henry Koehler, of Columbus, said he gave up 16 months to canvass for President-elect Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Koehler stared at a giant TV screen around 9 p.m. last night when MSNBC announced Obama had won the state of Ohio.

Soon after, Koehler was in tears.

“I’m not someone to say what is and is not history, but this is one of the biggest events in the history of the world,” he said. “It shows a difference, you know. They always talk about the greatest generation. Well, this generation has gave birth to President Barack Obama.”

Koehler and thousands of others from around the state and the rest of the world came together in Ohio’s capital last night. Most in attendance had volunteered at some point in the campaign.

Tamala Wade, of Columbus, spent all of yesterday and the past few months volunteering and making phone calls. She took her two children with her yesterday afternoon to volunteer, and the entire family was in Columbus last night.

“I didn’t just do this for myself, I did this for my kids. Their future depends on this election,” she said before the announcement.

“He identifies with poverty-stricken people and those in higher classes because he worked hard, and that’s what everyone should strive to do. It was a lesson for my kids – you can do anything you dream of.”

After the announcement, Wade had tears in her eyes, and she said everything she did for the campaign was worth it.

Gov. Ted Strickland had pumped up the crowd with the announcement that Richard Cordray was elected as attorney general. When CNN announced that Obama won Ohio, Cordray stopped his interview and jumped up and down, hugging those around him.

It was hugs and tears all around.

Will Simpson, 20, of Cleveland, could barely talk after the announcement, and his eyes were bloodshot red.

“They said we couldn’t do it,” Simpson screamed to his friends. “We did it. That’s what you call sticking together. We stuck together and nothing could stop Obama.

“We stand together, and damn it, we are not falling.”

That same excitement was visible in the older population in Columbus.

Rudolph Smith went door-to-door for the Obama campaign in the weeks leading up to the election. The 69-year-old black man had just one reaction when he saw Ohio go blue.

“After 69 years, it is awesome to get here,” he said.

But it wasn’t just the color of Obama’s skin that made last night special for Smith.

“I found him operating very, very close to the basic biblical principals,” Smith said. “His integrity was by far greater than his opponents, and I saw him operating by universal principles.”

His wife, Joyce, arrived at the event in the windbreaker she wore as she canvassed the streets of Columbus yesterday.

“(Volunteering) was really great,” she said. “I just don’t know what to say right now. It is so wonderful, I knew he could do it.”

While Smith talked, the crowd chanted.

“Yes we can. It’s more like, ‘yes we did,'” she said.

And that’s what many who crowded the Renaissance Hotel felt they did yesterday – make history.

“Hope meant a whole hell of a lot more than a tax break,” Koehler said, with tears in his eyes. “I talked to 28,000 people in the last four days . Hell yeah, it was worth it.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jeff Russ at [email protected].