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Originally published June 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 4, 2008 at 1:08 AM

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Election 2008

Locals cheer Obama's victory

A rowdy crowd of supporters of Sen. Barack Obama gathered at the World Sports Grille in downtown Seattle on Tuesday night. They laughed and cheered...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A rowdy crowd of supporters of Sen. Barack Obama gathered at the World Sports Grille in downtown Seattle on Tuesday night. They laughed and cheered, and congratulated each other on their candidate claiming the Democratic nomination — and becoming the first African American to lead a major-party ticket.

"Obama's going to be president of the United States," said James Whiting, 33, of Seattle, who attended the informal celebration with his girlfriend, another Obama supporter. "We didn't think it was going to happen at first, but he's here. It's amazing. He's going to go all the way."

King County Executive Ron Sims, a superdelegate for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, switched his support to Obama on Tuesday. Clinton co-chair and U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, has not switched his support, but said he will speak with Clinton privately today. Former Gov. Gary Locke, also one of Clinton's co-chairs for Washington state, also endorsed Obama.

"We need to bring this to an end. We cannot wait. This cannot go to the convention," Locke said. "It's time for us all to rally around Sen. Obama."

Although Clinton did not formally concede, she and Obama gave speeches calling for a unified Democratic Party.

Some Washington state Democrats on both sides of the primary battle expect that the wounds left by the long, contentious Democratic primary will be slow to heal.

"It's been a hard-fought battle. And it hasn't been pretty some of the time," said Kate Karpf, an Obama supporter who works in government in Seattle. "But at the end of the day, we need a president who's strong on the issues that are important to us as Democrats. I hope people see that. I think it'll take time."

Clinton supporter Dustin Nelson, 31, a Web developer from White Center, said there's no way he'll vote for Obama.

"No-bama," he said simply. "I will vote for neither [Sen. John] McCain nor Obama. I will write in Hillary's name to show my disgust for the Democratic Party. If that means McCain wins, that's what the Democrats get for choosing the wrong candidate."

If Obama chooses Clinton as his running mate, Nelson might consider voting for him, he said.

Lucille Howitt, a longtime Democrat and "adamant" Clinton supporter, was more conciliatory. She's "disappointed and angry" that Clinton will not be the Democratic nominee, but she "can't imagine voting Republican."

Jethro Odom, 39, a Web project manager and an Obama delegate at his precinct caucus, said the divisions between Obama supporters and Clinton supporters have been overstated by the national media.

"In the end, there will be maybe 12 Clinton people who refuse to support Obama," he said. "We just need to go in there, shake their hands and say, 'Good game, good game,' because the real fight's just beginning."

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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