(Asbury Park) — It was a damp, dreary day in Asbury Park but despite mother nature’s bluster, there was an air of anticipation about town. Chris Christie will soon be gone and voters in Asbury Park are anticipating Phil Murphy’s (likely) victory party at 8pm at the Asbury Hotel. There’s a VIP party at 6pm and I’ll try to crash that one for sure. Failing that, I’ll hang with the Planned Parenthood gang who are hosting a pre-victory party shindig of their own. After 8 years under a Governor who wanted to control the outcome of every pregnancy in America, Planned Parenthood supporters are especially keen to see Murphy vanquish his GOP rival, Kim Guadagno.
At 4PM, I grabbed a quick bite at the Asbury hotel lobby and was immediately struck by a very heavy New Jersey State police presence. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that this place was on lockdown. While waiting for my food to arrive, I encountered a half dozen or so democratic operatives blowing off nervous energy in the hotel lobby. Some were playing pool, while others were frantically checking their smart phones for the latest nuggets from the field. Others were just enjoying a moment of relative calm before tonight‘s crush of events.
All these campaigners here today wore the same exhausted look coupled with frantic anticipation. They’ve all been working long days, eating lots of cold pizza, and generally burning the candle at both ends. I recognize that look because I’ve worn it myself in previous elections. Campaign work is grueling stuff, surely not for the faint of heart. Some will taste victory later as others court defeat.
By roughly 5:30pm my inbox was teeming with frantic message to GOTV. The umpteenth time I’ve been reminded to vote since I actually voted earlier today in Cherry Hill. I was getting antsy. It was time to head out into the Cold November Rain.
The convention hall was relatively empty when CNN and other networks called the race for Murphy at 8:03 PM. A murmur went through the crowd but the room was so sparsely populated it was just that: a murmur. Not the ecstatic cries of ecstasy I expected. Hopefully that will come later though.
The announcement at 8:30 that the Democrats held the state of Virginia send the crowd into a spasm of delirium. I can only wonder what Guadagno supporters must be thinking about those results.
The fate of Kip bateman and Andrew Zwicker came up frequently. League of Conservation Voters vice chair Kelly Mooiij made no apologues for their support of GOP Senator Bateman. “We’re thrilled to have a leader on the environment to address issues such as climate change and protecting our clean air open space, and water throughout New Jersey”
They went balls deep for Bateman despite a fair degree of consternation from progressive organizations who took a dim view of their support of Republican candidate.
At 8:45 PM I crashed the press box. A quick survey of a half a dozen reporters revealed that they’re all really bored waiting for something to happen.
“I hope it’s an early night,” quipped one state house veteran. Amen to that.
Suddenly the news that Vin Gopal ousted Senator Jen Beck rippled through the crowd.
“I think Vin epitomizes equality,” Luanne Peterpaul told InsiderNJ. She chairs garden State Equality’s PAC. “People recognized Vin for who he is: someone who recognizes the equality of everyone in this district . He’s also someone who will also be smart on economic issues.”
“He killed her! Her crushed her!” someone shouted at no one in particular.
For this is Vin Gopal country. Maybe even more so then Phil Murphy, Vin is a Monmouth County/Asbury Park homeboy. And when his result was announced, the crowd lapsed into ecstasy.
That emotional tie was short-lived as the crowd quickly became restive waiting for Phil Murphy to appear.
“What you waiting for “oh my god that’s off the record!“ said one slightly tipsy political insider.
Most likely he’s waiting for the room to fill up. The weather reeks havoc on the last few hours of election day and likely catch many merry-makers home.
At 6:30 PM someone I don’t know if I need to Christie’s. It’s a sign of progress.
At 9:30 very talented performer belted out an acappella version of the Star-Spangled Banner. Suddenly everybody is all fired up.
At about 9:45 PM individual members of Murphy’s campaign descended into the crowd and began hugging friends and family.
“I feel surreal. I feel so humble. And I feel so grateful,“ Jenny Davis told InsiderNJ. She spent nearly 3 years setting the table for tonight’s result.
“I think it’s a great day great day for New Jersey. A fresh start.'” Assemblyman Reed Gusciora told InsiderNJ.
At 9:56 PM Cory Booker took the stage…nobody could really understand what he was saying because the PA system was crap. But folks but were fired up nonetheless.
The crowd left it up like a starving kitten. You can tell it’s late in the season because Booker’s voice was hoarse. His intro of Sheila Oliver brought the crowd to its feet. What Oliver Sporting a stylish, red dress, she thanked the crowd with a sense of exuberance and relief.
“I’m working alongside the next governor Phil Murphy told make sure that every child across the state has opportunities,” Oliver said “Tonight I’ll give you my word that I will certainly be a different kind of lieutenant governor.”
At 10:10 PM Tammy Murphy took the stage with her kids. New Jersey’s next first lady was absolutely stunning in a from fitting red dress.
“We listened to your hopes and fears and we’ve heard your aspirations. We’ve been deeply moved,” Tammy Murphy told the crowd. “
By the time Tammy introduced her “best friend“ and next governor of the state of New Jersey, the crowd was ready.
Murphy entered from the front and, flanked by a pharynx of reporters, made his way to the front of the stage.
Murphy took the stage as “You’ll never walk alone“ by Jerry and the Pacemakers blasted through the speakers. After 8 years of Chris Christie, the crowd was eager to embrace NJ’s new political order.
Jay Lassiter is a longtime NJ political gadfly. He won’t miss Chris Christie.
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“The crowd left it up like a starving kitten.” The word that you were searching for here, Jay, was lapped. The crowd lapped it up like a starving kitten. And WTF is a from fitting red dress. Is it possible that she was wearing a form-fitting red dress?
Where did you learn to write, you waste of bandwidth? Please get this man a proofreader!