In just a few hours, the sports bar Blondie’s — in the heart of liberal stronghold the Upper West Side — will open its doors to some 200 Democrats eager to see President Barack Obama throttle Republican challenger Mitt Romney. A bevy of the neighborhood’s political elite are expected to attend, including some, like Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who are actually on the ballot.
And the man organizing the festivities? That would be Jason Haber, founder of residential brokerage Rubicon Property, who has long devoted his spare time to Democratic politics. Haber was busy this afternoon inflating 150 blue balloons, which will fall from the ceiling in the event of an Obama victory. (If Romney wins, Haber will have the unfortunate — but metaphorically apt — job of popping the balloons tomorrow.)“Election parties are the new thing,” Haber said, referring to the way that election-night gatherings have proliferated since the 2000 presidential race. “Now that we’ve had three relatively close elections … people see it like a Super Bowl-like event.”
The party — sponsored by the Community Free Democrats, an influential political club founded in the 1960s — will offer free drinks, appetizers, music, donkey-shaped hats and a large map that organizers will color-code red and blue as soon as states get called for one candidate or the other.
Tonight is also the unofficial start of the municipal election season, Haber said, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (a possible Mayoral candidate) and City Council member Gale Brewer are also expected to make appearances at Blondie’s.
Haber invited several real estate clients to come, and he estimates that about 20 of the guests work in the real estate industry.
Haber has long been devoted to Democratic politics. A former president of the Community Free Democrats, Haber worked for Stringer before becoming a broker and ran for City Council in 2001. This year, he brokered a short-term lease for an Upper West Side storefront that the club has been using as a campaign office.
Haber is one of many New York City real estate professionals who are deeply involved in politics and the presidential race. And real estate professionals, from Donald Trump to to the Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, are also known for their hefty donations to political campaigns.
Still, Haber said he tries to compartmentalize his political activities from his real estate business: he declines to discuss politics with clients — unless they bring it up first.
“As long as you don’t get personal, nasty, I think people respect your opinion when you can articulate it,” Haber said.
But he concedes that his political activities are easier to conduct in the largely Democratic environs of New York City and the Upper West Side. Voters in the neighborhood today were chanting “Four more years!” in line to cast their ballots, he said.
“Here, if you’re a moderate, you’re considered a Republican,” Haber said.