WNYC Election Night Blog
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
WNYC is on the scene at campaign headquarters in New York and New Jersey. Our reporters are sending in dispatches about what they see and hear as election night unfolds.
Patricia Willens, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 12:09am
Bloomberg says he'll be back at work bright and early tomorrow morning, promising to continue his initiatives. He congratulated Thompson for a spirited campaign. He tapped into crowd spirit for the Yankees and walked off to Sinatra's 'New York, New York.' The crowd is leaving fairly quickly, but with many smiles.
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 12:03am
No acknowledgment by Bloomberg of his squeaker victory. The speech sounds like what Bloomberg has been promising all along...lower crime, better health, higher school test scores. 'We're going to make the next four years the best yet.'
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 11:17pm
I was talking to a senior administration official, who said of a third term 'it was going to be hard anyway,' even without a $100 million plus sqeaker. But then, as we were speaking, the understanding that nearly half the voters don't like Bloomberg sunk in. 'Wow. It's going to be hard.'
Patricia Willens, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 10:54pm
When told the race was tight, down to just a couple percentage points, Bloomberg supporters are surprised. One man blamed light turnout. Another said it may have come down to anti-Bloomberg sentiment, saying he was not very strong on the campaign trail. But others waved off the dramatic numbers, saying Bloomberg is a non-traditional politician and would pull through. As the hour wore on, the spread opened up a bit more. Still, all the Bloomberg campaign representatives disappeared around 9:30, presumably rewriting their talking points and maybe the mayor's speech. Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone just did a quick crowd rousing speech and the band is back, with a funkier set than earlier in the night.
Arun Venugopal, at Thompson Headquarters, 10:36pm
The crowd here at the Hilton has been electrified. Every speaker on stage is driving home the message that NYC's voters are rejecting big spending tonight--'Money can't buy everything!'--and turning to Thompson. There are flat screens all around the ballroom, and people are paying close attention to the returns, looking for those micro-shifts in favor of their man.
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 10:32pm
It's a bubble here, no one knows how close it is--49 to 4--with 72 percent of votes in. The senior staff has disappeared. I did find Oliver Koppell, the City Councilman and erstwhile State Attorney General, who was stunned speechless. If you know Koppell, you know how unusual that is. 'Term limits' was the reason he said, and when asked about what it means for a third term, he had a one-word answer: 'Trouble.'
Arun Venugopal, at Thompson Headquarters, 9:56pm
NY1 just showed 49-48, with 17 percent of the vote counted. A big cheer went up here at the Hilton, and everyone started chanting 'Bill Thompson!' The crowd is getting pumped.
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 9:45pm
An 84-year old, somewhat slower-talking-than-you remember Ed Koch just took the stage, to welcome Bloomberg to the club of three-term Mayors--Hizzoner included-- LaGuardia, Wagner, and Koch. 'Bloomberg,' Koch said, has restored New York 'to what it once was.'
Arun Venugopal, at Thompson Headquarters, 9:43pm
As I type, the Christopher Cross song 'Arthur's Theme' ('When you get caught between the moon and New York City...') is playing here at Bill Thompson's election party. This is not the first but the second time I've heard it in the last hour. Thompson's election nite iPod seems to consist almost entirely of minor-key songs about New York. Other telling examples: Don Henley's 'New York Minute,' Billy Joel's 'New York State of Mind,' and Sting's 'An Englishman in New York.' Oddly, it makes for a more sophisticated party vibe (far better than an endless stream of rock anthems, no?), and to be honest, people seem to enjoying themselves and their mini-burgers. Rep. Anthony Wiener is in the house--sounding relieved not to have been the Democratic candidate up against Bloomberg's bottomless treasure chest. Bill De Blasio is also milling about, and I'm told Freddy Ferrer is due soon. Thompson himself is expected around 10:30. A big cheer goes up when NY1 shows Bloomberg leading by just 7 points, with 8 percent of ballots counted.
Karen Frillmann, at Corzine Headquarters, 9:30pm
There are lots of folks milling around in purple t-shirts with bright yellow lettering that spell out SEIU--Service Employees International Union. Talking with two women near the coffee bar, they said they spent the day going door-to-door in New Brunswick in an attempt to get registered voters to the polls. They said it went 'OK,' not great. They said people were interested but not anything like last election day. The ballroom at the Hilton is finally beginning to fill up and there are lots of people watching the TV screens that report the race for the New Jersey Governor's seat is close to a dead heat between the Democrats and Republicans.
Kathleen Horan, at Liu Headquarters, 9:26pm
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 8:54pm
Ed Skylar, the bean pole-like Deputy Mayor, is wandering through the crowd now, as is Howard Wolfson, the campaign Communications Director, who usually doesn't make an appearance if he thinks he's losing (Hillary Clinton, New Hampshire primary). Wolfson is edging past waiters with mini-cheese burgers and chicken tenders. There are also folks who just like Mike Bloomberg...the charter school people...others who feel the Mayor helped make their project work.
Patricia Willens, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 8:41pm
Supporters are streaming in at a steady pace. The R&B band is in full swing. I spoke with a West African mother who has been in the city for the last 40 years, and is raising her children here. She applauded Bloomberg for his pro-immigration positions and improving the reading curriculum at her school in Queens. Then there was the president of a Korean veterans group who said his group joined a coalition endorsing the mayor last fall. Finally, a board member of an all-girls charter school in the Bronx said the support from the Department of Education has made her school possible. When asked about term limits and the money the mayor spent on his campaign for a third term in office they all shrugged their shoulders and repeated their support.
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 8:22pm
In 2001, Mike Bloomberg held his election party in a Times Square blues club. Waitresses carried lighted trays that said 'Mike for Mayor' with fancy canapes. By election night party standards it had flair--not, perhaps, as much flair as the party he threw at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 (before he ran for Mayor)--with a tray of oysters overseen by a live mermaid (okay, an actress). But it had more flair than tonight's election party in a giant ballroom in the Sheraton New York. Sterno is heating 'sicilian' pizza and hot dogs, and there's an open bar (lavish by the standards of most campaigns, where you're lucky to find peanuts). Still, it's like the party for the bat mitzvah of your wealthy cousin.
Karen Frillmann, at Corzine Headquarters, 8:21pm
The ball room at the Hilton Hotel has scattered signs that say 'Latinos for Corzine/Weinberg' and 'OPCMIA Families Support Corzine.' There's lots of press, but this room--which is expected to fill with Democratic supporters--is pretty empty. The polls have closed in New Jersey but none of the big guns or behind-the-scenes players are emerging with even a peep.
Andrea Bernstein, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 8:02pm
You won’t see it when Mike Bloomberg takes the stage tonight, but under the risers where he and his supporters will stand are long decals with a mosaic of “YOUR ETHNIC GROUP HERE” for Bloomberg. Pakistanis, Irish, LGBT, Women. Not surprising, the Mayor is legendary--in political circles-- for having his website translated into 14 languages. But tucked in among the ethnic groups is “Bus Riders for Bloomberg,” Bus Riders? Never knew ‘em to have a sense of identity politics. Maybe we’ll be seeing bus riders rallies from here on in…
Karen Frillmann, at Corzine Headquarters, 7:38pm
Campaign officials say they're 'satisfied' with reports on voter turnout numbers in traditionally Democratic districts. In the last two gubernatorial elections in New Jersey, turnout was close to 50 percent, a far cry from the 73 percent that turned out a year ago when President Obama was elected.
Karen Frillmann, at Corzine Headquarters, 7:16pm
The 3rd floor at the Hilton Hotel in East Brunswick is slowly filling with a 'who's who' of New Jersey politics, local and national media and all the hangers on. At the sports bar adjacent to Governor Corzine's rented gathering spot there are murmurings that turnout was light. The countdown goes to 8:00 when the polls close and more will be disclosed.
Arun Venugopal, in Jackson Heights, 7:11pm
I just witnessed an interesting sidewalk showdown of sorts between two City Council candidates in Jackson Heights and their supporters. In front of PS 69, Mujib Rahman, who is running on the Independent, Republican and Conservative tickets, is handing out a campaign flyer calling Daniel Dromm, his Democrat opponent, a 'radical activist for gay special interests.' Dromm is a gay activist and beat incumbent Helen Sears in the Democratic primary. Dromm and Rahman exchanged words and Dromm's supporters refused to shake Rahman's hand, saying they were offended by what they saw as gay baiting. Rahman played dumb at first, but told me he represents 'the silent majority' and that Dromm and company 'go to town on gay issues and nothing else.'
Jackson Heights has one of the largest gay populations in New York City. Dromm says he hadn't experienced any homophobia during this election until this incident, and his aide, who like Rahman is Bangladeshi, said that his community is not homophobic and wants to keep its religious values separate from its politics.
Patricia Willens, at Bloomberg Headquarters, 6:53pm
The Sheraton just north of Times Square is a massive hotel that hosts major events almost every day of the year so this election night party fits right in to the hustle and churn of the lobby and meeting rooms. Inside the ballroom the volunteers are wandering around, but with purpose and energy, in t-shirts that say things like 'Women for Bloomberg.' Behind them a massive blue banner says only 'Progress.' But mostly this is the time for equipment checks. Photographers are talking lens types, bored TV cameramen are munching on popcorn, sound engineers are taping cords to the carpet. Journalists are calling in to their editors or...posting to their blogs. I'm told doors open to supporters at 8 and then the real party will begin.
Beth Fertig, in Flushing, 4:31pm
Joshua Proctor, 13, and Jah-Leel Fulmore, 13, are volunteering for the Bloomberg campaign outside Bland Houses in Flushing. They said they volunteered over the summer because they like the mayor and they can get recommendation letters for high school. They also got invited to the election night party in Manhattan.