At 9 p.m. last night, just as the polls were closing and the city’s weary poll workers roused from their slumber to head back home, someone popped out of the BLVD club on Bowery and hung a David Yassky for Comptroller sign on the door.
BLVD was the sight of Yassky’s would-be victory party, but an adjacent door led to the club’s other space, where something called the Meany Fest was taking place.
Inside the Yassky door, a hundred or so of his supporters streamed in, mostly wearing dark suits and hovering by the bar until it got too crowded. On one wall, Andre the Giant stared out from a floor-to-ceiling collage of OBEY posters at a makeshift stage. The bright lights of several NY1 cameras ricocheted off two disco balls above a dance floor. A beer was $9 dollars. “I heard it’s going to be open bar, but only if he wins,” said one reporter.
The televisions were all on mute, and a steady bass beat started just before the results started rolling in. Over a Phil Collins dance remix, supporters craned their necks to see the first returns: John Liu at 58 percent and David Yassky at 41. Then it was 57 to 42. And then, at 56 to 44—without so much as a pregnant pause—NY1 called it, and the race was over.
The music stopped and Yassky, now about to leave the City Council for, presumably, a job in the private sector, emerged onto the stage to a brief chant of “David, David.” His wife and two daughters held hands behind him.
“This is not the party that you hoped to come to and that I hope to have for you tonight,” he said. “But it is still a celebration of a vision of government that I believe in as deeply as I ever have and that I know all of you here tonight believe in deeply and that truly tens of thousands of New Yorkers share. It’s a vision that motivated people I have never met to send e-mails to their 100-person e-mail lists urging them to vote in this election.”
He said he already called John Liu to concede and urged his supporters to support Liu, who “earned a well-deserved victory, and I’m sure he will be a terrific comptroller for the city of New York.”
“When I got into this race, the city was in much better shape than it is today,” he said. “As the campaign wore on, I began to feel deeply in my gut that we care about the city have real work to do. So the campaign ends tonight, but the work that we have to do—all of us—continues.”
He thanked a number of elected officials who had supported him, pausing for a while to say Senator Chuck Schumer had just called him in between fighting for a public option-—which drew applause. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Thank God for Chuck Schumer,” Yassky said.
“When you picture losing a campaign like this, I pictured it would be painful—and it is, of course, and I’ll have some pain to get over,” but because of his family, Yassky said, “I’ll wake up energized and ready to tackle the next chapter.”
He left the stage to roaring applause, and emerged a few minutes later, shaking hands and hugging supporters, over a dance remix of “More Than a Feeling.”
“There are some real tragic remixes in this place,” a man in a suit told the girl next to him.
Yassky left with his family a short while later, having declined to elaborate on what exactly the future might hold. “I’m exhausted,” he said.