Dozens of New Yorkers gathered in the back room of 132 Lounge in Brooklyn Heights last night, for a Team Bernie watch party in the Democratic candidate’s hometown, awaiting the final razor-close count of votes from the Iowa caucuses. Supporters monitored changing percentages on the flat screen TV at the front of the dimly lit room while nursing drinks and keeping the volume of conversations just low enough to hear any unexpected announcements.
Sean Robertson, 37, a pledged delegate for Sanders in the 7th Congressional District, took a breather outside with a cigarette. He had spent the night before celebrating his engagement to his partner, but this would be an important night for him as well. A FOX News team had even come by earlier to check out the watch party—one of the few held in New York City, based on calls to the various candidates’ campaign organizations.
“I’ve been following this stuff since I was a kid, but this is the first time that I’ve actually gone so far as to be a delegate so I could actually end up at the convention,” said Robertson, a newly elected member of the executive committee of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democratic Club, which he said is the only Democratic club in Brooklyn that has endorsed Bernie Sanders.
“The Iowa caucuses are unimportant in actual impact because not that many Iowa caucus winners have gone on to win the nomination,” he said as he put out his cigarette. But he added, “It matters this time because if Sanders pulled off a win in Iowa it would show that Hillary is not invincible, the same way as when Obama beat her eight years ago.”
Later in the evening, Clinton went on to win—though by a very narrow margin.
Another person at the party, Carmen Hulbert, 65, lead organizer for the 7th Congressional District, recently retired from her long-time job at The Associated Press and became active in the Bernie Sanders campaign , creating the group Latinos for Bernie NY.
Finished with her burger, Hulbert moved to the center of the room where she chatted with a few familiar faces. As the votes began to pour in from Iowa, the vibe remained decidedly Brooklyn and low-key.
“When we started in the first week of August in Sunset Park, everybody knew Hillary,” said Hulbert. “Nobody knew who Bernie Sanders was, so we did literature of ‘Who is Bernie’ in Spanish and talked to Latinos every week we were there. Now they’re our friends and they like him, because he talks for us.”
Hulbert added, “The same thing they are saying about Bernie Sanders, they were saying about Obama – that he was not electable, that he didn’t have experience – and he turned out to be a very good president. Although I think he lacks the backbone that Bernie Sander has.”