Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hill, Hill, the gang's all here!

Give us a moment. Technical difficulties.

8:45 We may have a connection.

I'm a friend of Hillary tonight. Paper sign taped to the back of my chair says so. "FRIENDS OF HILLARY."

Handsome fella at the table ahead of ours is from a German newspaper. Paper sign taped to the back of his chair says so. He's been following Hillary. Tells me there has never been as much interest in a US midterm election in Europe as there is in this one. Europeans like us. They want us to have decent, sane leadership again.

We're at the Sheraton Towers in midtown Manhattan. Party's across the hall from here in a ballroom. We're allowed in the ballroom. Press pass around my neck says so. But we're only allowed so far in. There's a hip-high metal fence not far into the room. When Hillary comes out to dance with Bill in celebration of her victory, the Media gets to watch from a distance, cozy in the shadows of the TV cameras tiered on the bleachers behind us.

Newspaper guy charges in. Looks like Bob Newhart's younger, crewcut, anger-management-class candidate younger brother. Discovers the fence. "That's it? This is as far as we go? We're penned here?" Slaps his notebook against his thigh. '"Fuck!" That didn't do it for him. "FUCK!!!!" Then he notices me smiling. "Oh. Sorry." He charges off, slapping his notebook against his palm as he goes.

Best campaign button so far: Cara Kennedy Cuomo Class Secretary 2006. Her father Andrew’s on his way to becoming New York's next Attorney General. I hope she’s not trading on her father’s name.

Voice at the back of the room: “Matt! Where’s Matt! Matt should be here in this room!”

9:02 Polls are closed here in New York State. Eliot Spitzer’s the new governor.

9:03 Sherrod Brown wins!

Wireless connection here is awful. Awful! We're thinking of adjourning to the Starbucks down the street.

9:10 Lieberman wins. We'll have to wait for Missouri and Virginia to find out if Connecticut still has a Democratic Senator.

9:15 Just wrestled a bottle of Pepsi away from a photographer. Figured I needed to be tough. When I set up here at the beginning of the evening there was a table at the back of the room loaded with plates of cookies. Mainstream Media Types scarfed them all down before I had a chance to get even a ladyfinger.

Hillary's won re-election. Her Communications Director, Ann Lewis, being interviewed on the TV. Reporter's pushing her to admit that Hillary's running for President. Lewis keeps the focus on tonight. Voters want one election at a time, Lewis says.

9:20. Cardin in Maryland! Chances are better that Lieberman remains a Democrat.

Cuomo beats Jeanine Pirro handily. Cara a better bet for class secretary.

Alex Hevesi, the Democratic candidate for New York State Comptroller, is still slugging it out. Hevesi's running under a cloud. Hired a car and driver for his ailing wife at state expense. Speculation is that even if he wins he won't take office. He'll step down to avoid being removed. He's not here at the Sheraton. He's having his own party in another part of town.

9:31 Joe Donnelly picks one up for the Democrats in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District.

Lincoln Chaffee's gone in Rhode Island. It's too bad, but it had to be.

Sheldon Silver, speaker of the New York State Assembly, a Democrat, is on the ballroom floor promising to work for reform with the new governor.

Metal barriers are gone from the ballroom. Replaced by red velvet ropes.

If you're a young man, early 20s, say, and you're at least six feet tall, weigh in at 220 or more, and you go to work for a political campaign, you know what your job's going to be at every event.

"Can I see your pass, sir?"

"You have to use those stairs, sir."

"I'm sorry, sir. Supporters in here only."

Black is the color of the uniform for political hacks, coatholders, high muckety mucks, and righthand men and women. Dozens and dozens of men in black suits. Few of them pulling it off. No Jakes, No Elwoods. Looks like a convention of undertakers here.

Hugely smiling undertakers. They're burying Republicans, after all.

Tom Watson, blogging next to me, says that the Green Party may be costing Webb the Senate in Virginia. Webb is behind by a couple of thousand votes. Green candidate's pulled in almost 22,000.

Veteran campaign advisor standing by our table overhears. Disgusted. "How many times does this have to happen before it sinks in?"

John Faso, the Republican candidate for governor's giving his concession speech. Sounds like a campaign stump speech. He's supporting the troops, advocating cutting taxes. I'm pretty sure he knows he's lost.

10:00 Hillary's Communications Director, Ann Lewis just stopped by the table to say hello. Says she's now watching how Hillary's doing in parts of the state she lost in 2000, areas far upstate and out on Long Island. Lewis says there are communities on Long Island that didn't exist six years ago. Hillary polled 48 per cent out there in 2000. Lewis expecting Hillary improved on that.

10:15 CBS has the Democrats picking up 10 House seats so far. 3 Senators. 5 Governors.

10:20 Andrew Cuomo giving his victory speech. Introduces his daughters, including the next secretary of her class, Cara Kennedy Cuomo. Then he introduces "the greatest governor in the history of New York State." Mario comes out, looking a bit sheepish, as if wondering what the ghosts of FDR and Al Smith are thinking about that one. Probably thinking, What a good son. Mario gets big cheers. I'm cheering. Only character in the press area cheering. Whoops. Identified myself as an amateur. Nevermind. Mario looks great. His wife, Matilda, looks terrific. Better in person than on TV, too.

Andrew congratulates Spitzer. Big round of applause. Andrew congratulates Hillary. The walls shake, the ceiling trembles and threatens to come down. Next President, I'm telling ya.

Andrew says his opponent Jeanine Pirro was gracious when she called to congratulate him.

Goes on to give a rousing speech about bringing honor and integrity back to state government. Think he forgot who's still Attorney General. I'm sure Spitzer knows Andrew means the Republicans were the lackers in honor and integrity.

Andrew steals a line from my 10 year old's---


10:35 Hillary introduced! Mad rush to the ballroom.

Bill at the back of the stage looking proud. Red-faced, tearing up. Hillary telling us how proud she is to be our senator, looking forward to moving the country back to the honest, "vital center!"

She quotes Dick Cheney who vowed that no matter how the election went the Bush administration would keep going "Full speed ahead in the same direction!" Crowd boos! Hillary says, "Tonight the American people said, Not so fast!"

"What's happening across the country tonight is a sign that our democracy is alive and strong!"

She and Bill leave the stage with Bachman Turner Overdrive playing from the loudspeakers. "Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!"

10:50. Getting back to Andrew Cuomo. He stole a line from the 10 year old's campaign speech. I forgot to mention that the 10 year old ran for class lawyer last month. Yes, class lawyer. Long story. Anyway, he won. His campaign slogan was "I will fight to my last breath for you!"

Cuomo said tonight, "I will fight with every breath in my body for you."

I think the 10 year old's version's catchier.

10:58 David Paterson, the new Lieutenant Governor---shoot! They just announced Eliot Spitzer. Running for the doors now.

11:05 New York's next governor: "Not a victory for one candidate or for one party. A victory for the irrepresible optimists who have hoped and dreamed for a revitalized New York."

Promising to get right down to work making changes on "Day One!" Quotes Alexander Hamilton: "Energy in the executive is the defining principle of good government."

Lists and praises every 20th Century New York Governor, except one, the only 21st Century governor the state has had so far, George Pataki.

Actually, it's an impressive list, including the Republicans Tom Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller. Makes you wonder why the state's in such tough shape. Governors can't control the weather or elect the state legislators.

"At times in my life I have been known as the People's Lawyer. I like to think that over the last year we have run a People's campaign. And I fully intend to serve as the People's Governor."

Finishes up with a quote from Walt Whitman on the genius of the people.

Music as he leaves the stage: The Stones! Start Me up!

11:30 John Hall up by 2 per cent in NY 19 with 90 percent of the vote counted.

Almost forgot, Eliot introduced his parents who have been married for 61 years. When the news was announced his father grinned and raised both thumbs up to the cheering crowd.

Back to David Paterson. Paterson pointed to the fact that New York has never had a lieutenant governor before who looked like him. He's black. He praised New York's embrace of its diversity. Too bad they can't hear him in Arizona. They passed an English as the official language law out there tonight.

All night long in the press area in the ballroom, two very short Spanish speaking stewardesses, a strawberry blonde and a dark almost black-haired brunette, in their blue uniforms have been standing there with taking pictures with their cell phone cameras. They have a regular digital camera which they've been sharing.

11:40 Big House pick up in Arizona! Harry Mitchell running JD Hayworth out of town. CBS gives the Democrats 18 seats so far, CNN says 19.

Mark Foley's seat going to the Democrats in Florida.

11:49 Big cheers in the next room. Somebody's called Virginia for Webb. Awful close. And state law requires an automatic recount if the margin's 1 percent or less. Lots of absentee ballotts. But there's a Democratic Governor so maybe they all get counted.

Looking really good for Hall in NY 19. Brendon's live blogging from Hall's HQ.

Jerry Brown's the next Attorney General of California. He's going to have held every office you can run for out there before he's done.

12:10. Things are wrapping up. TV crews are rolling up their cables. Ballroom's emptying out. Couple of reporters doing their last stand ups. One is interviewing a round shouldered, chubby dark-skinned man in a red turban who has a large handmaid sign leaning up against his legs: "Hillary! One step, two years to the White House!"

Aide, a young woman, but in a black suit of course, wearing a headset, just asked us if we can shut down and be out of here in fifteen minutes. Print guys are growling they can't do it. I think I can shut down in five. I'll follow this up in the morning. Thanks for tuning in.


Making up for dropped wireless connection updates:

Blogging the night away alongside me in the other chairs with paper Friends of Hillary signs taped to the backs:

Sisyphus Shrugged.

Bob Geiger was with us, but he got fed up waiting for the wireless problem to self-correct, grabbed a notebook, and hit the pavement---well, the carpet. He spent the night barging into places he wasn't supposed to go, getting thrown out of some of them, slipping past people he wasn't supposed to slip past, and generally going about the business of being a reporter. Every time I bumped into him during the course of the night he looked to be having a grand time.

Special thanks to Shakespeare's Sister who kept me updated by phone in the early going.


Post a Comment

<< Home