DANVILLE -- GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's fundraising breakfast Saturday suited the Bay Area's most Republican town to a T: a low-key, deep-pocketed affair that got the job done without making waves.
Supporters gave or raised from $1,000 to $25,000 to attend the 8:15 a.m. event at the home of former San Francisco 49ers tight end Brent Jones and his wife, Dana. Local reporters weren't allowed in.
Ryan arrived at 8:45 a.m. and soon was seen posing for photos on the palatial home's patio with supporters who had given $10,000 or more. Later, applause and cheers were heard from behind the house.
The Wisconsin congressman left in a black Chevy Suburban about 9:45 a.m., waving to a few neighbors as he headed down El Pintado Road. He then visited Google's headquarters in Mountain View for an online "hangout" with swing-state campaign volunteers Saturday afternoon before heading to a fundraising dinner in Fresno.
Retiree Chuck DeHont paused near Jones' house while walking his two dogs to see what all the fuss was about. He wouldn't say whom he's likely to vote for, adding that he's mostly "apolitical."
Republicans, he said, know California is a sure win for President Barack Obama. "It does spare us the ads, at least," DeHont said.
He wasn't surprised to hear that Danville -- where 43.1 percent of registered voters are Republicans -- is the reddest spot in the ultrablue Bay Area, but said the town doesn't wear this
"There aren't many hot-and-heavy rabid types around here,'' he said. "Everybody's entitled to their opinion. At least most people here seem to be well-informed."
Sharon Carter, a Democrat who lives nearby, joked about running home to fetch some eggs to throw, adding that she doesn't believe the ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan "has anything to offer me."
Carter, a consultant for PG&E, said she moved to Danville three years ago and has never felt unwelcome.
"I had friends who grew up here, and I always loved the area -- not the politics, obviously," she said, adding that she's volunteering Tuesday at an Obama campaign phone bank. "I do plan to get some yard signs ... and we'll see if I get any repercussions as a result of that. I haven't tested it, but I plan to."
Another neighbor, who said she's a Danville native, felt "very proud" that Ryan was in town. "He seems very knowledgeable and quick on his feet," she said. "He knows his facts ... and he seems like a good, moral man to look up to."
"That goes for the whole ticket," her husband chimed in, adding that he's confident Ryan "will help get the budget under control."
Yet they wouldn't give their names, saying they were concerned Bay Area employers and residents would ostracize them for their views.
To the Bay Area's GOP minority, Danville might look like an island of conservative sanity in the middle of a lake of liberal lunacy, a bastion where right-thinking humans hold off the lefty zombie hordes. To liberal Democrats, however, Danville might look like a wildlife refuge where the one percent runs free in its gated, country-club-like habitat, feeding on Republican red meat and drinking working-class sweat.
But to most of Danville's 40,000 residents, it looks like a city of détente, a place that values getting along over partisan breast-beating.
Jerome Pandell and Michael Caporusso remain friends more than a decade after meeting as debate team rivals, even though Pandell now is a fundraising "bundler" for President Obama and a 2012 Democratic National Convention delegate, while Caporusso is a former Contra Costa County GOP director now helping to lead the local Romney-Ryan campaign.
In 2010, Pandell and Caporusso argued nose-to-nose over the county registrar's ballot tallies after a hot congressional election. Then they went to lunch together.
That's Danville, Pandell said: "It's a nice enough place where even if we Democrats occasionally feel we're in the minority, we can still sit down and have a bite with our friends on the other side of the aisle."
Caporusso agreed: "We were always able to have that dialogue, that discourse, and then have the common bond of the community to come back to when we were done."
Both describe Danville as an archetypical American town -- a bit of the Midwest transplanted to the coast. That's not entirely so: U.S. Census data show it's more than twice as rich and college-educated than the nation or the state -- and also much whiter. But it's an image the town cherishes.
"Life's good for folks," Caporusso said, "and there's no need to be hyper-partisan one way or the other."
When it comes to the town's upkeep, "it's not a liberal pothole, it's not a conservative pothole," said Mayor Newell Arnerich, a Democrat. "We're fiscally responsible, we save our money and we try not to build things just because we want them."
Behind closed curtains at the polls, though, Republicans rule.
Only two Democrats have carried Danville in presidential, gubernatorial or U.S. Senate votes since 1992: President Barack Obama in 2008, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein all four times she has run.
Feinstein, however, might be kissing Danville goodbye this year. Her Republican challenger in November, Elizabeth Emken, lives here.
But don't start mouthing off about that race, or any other, at Elliott's Bar on Hartz Avenue.
Owner Dale Stockbridge called Danville "a bedroom community where everyone does their own thing" politically -- but not in the bar he has tended since 1976.
If patrons start trading political rhetoric, "we make them shut up," he said. "The first things you're going to get fights over are women and politics, so I put the kibosh on politics right off the bat."
Only six Bay Area cities have more registered Republicans than Democrats:
Monte Sereno: 38.6%
Los Altos Hills: 35.3%
BAY AREA'S FIVE MOST DEMOCRATIC CITIES
San Pablo: 65.6%