The New York State Republican Party’s election night event in Manhattan was among the few nationwide GOP gatherings that had little to celebrate Tuesday night.
Until 12:30 AM, the evening’s program was a litany of concessions. First came Joe DioGuardi, the long shot challenger to Democratic senatorial incumbent Katherine Gillibrand, who left the stage of the Hilton New York’s ballroom to John Mellencamp’s campaign classic, “Our Country.” Next to concede was Jay Townsend, the long shot challenger to New York’s other Democratic senatorial incumbent, Chuck Schumer.
Meanwhile, the state party’s biggest headline-grabber, gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, wasn’t even on the scene; he was at his own party upstate. He wasn’t missed, however. No one seemed to pay attention to his 11:20 PM concession, which was projected on a jumbo screen on the front of the room. As the self-avowed Tea Party member delivered what sounded like an hours-late stump speech, New York’s Republican faithful crowded around smaller TV’s to watch the much-cheerier election results from out of state on Fox News.
Meanwhile, the real action was across the hall, in a side room where supporters of state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson watched for the results of his tight race with Democratic incumbent Thomas DiNapoli. The two were neck-and-neck as Paladino spoke, and a decision in the race didn’t appear to be forthcoming anytime soon.
The Jewish communal elite much in evidence at the Republican event. But as the evening wore on, a few pockets of ultra-Orthodox men approached the rooms housing the supporters of Wilson and the attorney general candidate Dan Donovan, who appeared to be preparing to concede at 12:30 AM.
Three Lubavitchers, including Chanina Sperling, the executive vice president for intergovernmental relations of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, said that they had come from the Democratic Party event at the Sheraton Hotel to see Donovan.
“We go to each corner and see what’s doing,” said Sperling.
Elie Slavin, another of the three, said that his community was most interested in jobs, security, and tuition vouchers for private religious schools. And although they were at the Republican event, the men said that they would be happy as long as the Democrats held the New York State Senate.
“Politics is politics, but when the lights dim and everyone goes home we roll up our sleeves and try to work together,” said Slavin. “Business is business. It’s not personal.”
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.