Just before midnight, the television broadcasting Tuesday's primary results on the Bell House stage was covered up by a sweeping red curtain. Music by Macklemore and fun. boomed from the loudspeakers, but the thumping bass lines were nothing compared to the shrieks of thrilled supporters as Bill de Blasio's numbers crept toward 40 percent—the magic number he would need to avoid a runoff in his bid for the mayorship.
While the party in the venue was raucous and cramped, the one outside—this one complete with food trucks and speakers—had the spirit of a barbecue, with supporters and curious passersby milling around, munching lobster rolls and wondering what the hell was going on indoors, just beyond the closely guarded ropes.
The speech de Blasio would later give invoked the tale of two cities rhetoric that has come to define his campaign, although some who were barred entry from the main party in the Bell House—comprised of a tightly-held guest list of reporters and supporters—grimly remarked that the tale of two cities—the "haves" and the "have nots"—was already at work in dueling celebrations. (de Blasio reps countered that allowing more than the allotted number in venue would create a fire hazard, which, you know—there's something to that.)
Still, it was the assemblage on the street that was first to be greeted by de Blasio when he arrived, remarking glibly that he heard there was a little block party and that he had to come over.
Inside, the usual throng of alcohol-sodden reporters swayed awkwardly and vied over coveted electrical outlet space. The screen in the front was tuned to the results, and as de Blasio's votes rolled in—39.4, 39.6, 39.9—the crowd roared with enthusiasm rarely seen outside a Texas football stadium.
Longtime de Blasio supporter and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon took the stage first, along with 1199SEIU Union President George Gresham. De Blasio's incredibly poised children, Chiara and Dante, followed, with Chiara boasting that “my little brother might look good on TV, but I’m the only de Blasio kid who actually got to vote for her dad today."
By the time de Blasio himself showed up, his kids had already worked the crowd into butter, though the importance of his family to the campaign did not appear lost on him. “I am so proud of this victory tonight, but it pales in comparison to the pride I feel in these children and in this family," he told the crowd.
De Blasio's speech encapsulated all the cornerstones of his platform: The danger of stop-and-frisk, the importance of including residents of all five boroughs in political discourse, the evil of allowing luxury condos to overtake hospitals and the city's lack of affordable housing, as well as the need to "offer an unapologetically progressive alternative to the Bloomberg era."
"What we have achieved here tonight, and what we'll do in the next round...won't just change the view of how things look inside City Hall, but will change the policies that have left behind so many of our fellow New Yorkers outside City Hall," he said.
He also addressed the naysayers who suggested his thinking was too idealistic to be practical.
"Let me say this: We are New Yorkers. Thinking big isn't new to us. It's at the very foundation of who we are who we've always been. It is essential to our characters as New Yorkers. It's why this place is great."
The speech wrapped up, and the de Blasio family assembled once again, this time, fittingly, for the Smackdown.