Photo by Sara Dover
Additional reporting by Sara Dover
Governor David Paterson wasn’t going to get the crowd at last night’s State Democratic Committee party to pay attention to him just by asking. John McCain had just conceded the Presidential election, and the Democratic supporters and politicians packed into the Sheraton Hotel ballroom were in a joyous frenzy, roaring, jostling, and pumping their fists.
So Paterson started by leading the crowd in a chant of “Yes We Can.”
“Now America has fulfilled its true destiny,” Paterson told the election-night party-goers. “Today we learned that if you work hard enough and try hard enough, you can win in America.”
The crowd cheered this, and cheered again when Paterson announced that their party had taken enough state senate seats for a majority — its first in forty years.
The atmosphere had changed dramatically from the earlier half of the evening, when partygoers wandered the room, anxiously watching election results on the TV screens.
Before McCain’s concession, New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, perhaps fearing a jinx, told the Voice Obama had already made history by breaking through prejudice to become the Democratic nominee. But as he warmed to his subject he grew bolder.
“It’s not just that he’s gonna come close,” Thompson said, “it’s [that] he’s gonna win.”
When State Senator Malcolm A. Smith followed Paterson at the podium, he too had to wait for the attention of the crowd, who were lustily booing Sarah Palin on one of the TV screens. Only when Palin retreated to her limo did they turn their attention to Smith, who discussed the implications of the new senate majority “after forty years in the wilderness.” By that point most of the crowd was so happy that when Smith pledged bipartisanship, they didn’t even boo.
State Senator Kevin S. Parker told the Voice the state senate elections were at least as important for New Yorkers as Obama’s win.
“This is actually, in some ways, a more improbable victory than Barack Obama,” Parker said. “You can look at Barack Obama as a Democrat re-taking the White House. That was only 8 years ago.”
He called Obama’s election an extension of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights struggle. “When King marched on Washington, he went to cash a check.” Parker said. “Today proves that check can be cashed.”
New York City Councilmember Bill De Blasio told the Voice that Obama’s election was a moment he had spent his whole life waiting for.
“Obama is the perfect leader,” De Blasio said.