An hour before the polls closed, Rick Lazio's staff was setting up balloons and testing microphones beneath crystal chandeliers at the Women's National Republican Club on 51st Street, while news organizations readied their operations for election night and Lazio supporters trickled into a small third floor ballroom.
The venue is a bespoke private club built in 1933 on the site of the former home of Andrew Carnegie. It has marble staircase, oak paneled walls and a library filled with leather armchairs.
The club was founded by suffragist Henrietta Wells Livermore and moved to its current home just 13 years after women won the right to vote. Reporting at its opening, one newspaper reporter wrote, "The building has been planned as a working headquarters for politically minded women with facilities for mass meetings, speechmaking, schools of party politics and for the comfortable informal discussion that solidifies opinion."
The candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination was still campaigning as some of his supporters began to trickle in and the sound system played a motivational mix of Eye of the Tiger, the theme from Rocky and Van Halen's "Dreams".
Robin Weaver, who described herself as a Republican party loyalist, arrived from her job at a financial services firm in midtown. She often attends election night events, she said. She voted for Lazio, she said, because, "I think he's a decent guy," she said. "He's right on in terms of his message."
State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox was the first to speak tonight at the Lazio and Republican headquarters. His speech was notable because he did not mention the candidate at the top of the ticket. State Republicans pushed hard for Rick Lazio, selecting him as the preferred candidate early. But tonight he didn't warrant a mention in the warm-up speech.