Democracy for New York City’s Fourth Annual "Summer Cocktail Reception" was all about Barack Obama.
Held at the downtown bar M1-5, the event’s theme was "Unity ’08," a reference, apparently, to bringing Democrats together (and not to the group that wanted Michael Bloomberg to run for president).
As the guests trickled in, DFNYC finance director Lewis Cohen decorated the bar with "Obama ’08" signs.
"I have no doubt we will endorse," he told me.
"I think people are looking at the total candidate," said City Councilman Tony Avella, also a long-shot mayoral candidate. "He [Obama] stands for change, and we need change in the city.
"It has gotten really bad," he added. "Good legislation languishes in the Council forever."
The theme of Obama for change in City Hall ran throughout the evening.
"I’ve been for Obama for a year and a half," said Norman Siegel, an attorney making his third bid for public advocate, as Tom Petty played in the background. "I love his intellect, his vision, his idealism. But I disagree with his policies on Pfizer, capital punishment, and the Second Amendment. I’d love to sit down with him and discuss issues like civil liberties–but it’s a no-brainier, you vote for Barack Obama."
City Councilman Eric Gioia, a well-funded candidate for public advocate, was less critical. "Every Democrat should do their part to support Barack Obama," he said. "When I think about ’08, I think about my little girl, the air she breathes, her school, and her safety. We can’t handle another four years of ‘Bush-Lite.’"
Onstage, DFNYC spokeswoman Tracy Denton introduced Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America and brother of Howard.
"Yeah, we’re gonna have to work our butts off to get Obama elected for president," he told the audience.
In the crowd I also spotted Luke Henry, a DFNYC-backed challenger to Sheldon Silver; State Senator John Sabini, who will shortly be starting as head of the state’s Racing and Wagering Board; State Senate candidate Don Barber; Chris Owen, son of Major Owen; State Senate candidate Jimmy Dahroug; and a representative from Steve Harrison’s campaign for the Congressional seat Vito Fossella is retiring from.
When it was Mark Green’s turn onstage he turned to the audience and said, "Raise your hand if you organized for Hillary in the primary contest." About about 30 people–roughly two-thirds of the crowd–raised their hands.
"Raise your hand if you organized for Obama in the primary contest," he demanded, as about 20 people raised their hands, and someone hissed loudly. "Now," Green went on. "Who is not yet convinced to go all out for Barack Obama?"
The room was quiet.
"Gender matters, interest groups matter, but agenda matters more than anything," he said. "If you are not supportive of [DFNYC endorsing Obama], you are betraying Hillary Clinton and you are betraying all our history."