By Yepoka Yeebo
SOHO — Outside a a SoHo gallery hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, a man and a woman who had never met before were arguing bitterly over politics.
Edwin Jean isn't planning to vote in the midterm elections next Tuesday — he didn't even know they were happening. After voting for Obama in 2008, Jean, a self-described Canal Street hustler and realtor, stopped paying attention.
Joan Dean, a political consultant for Democratic candidates, was not interested in his excuse. How could he not vote?
On Tuesday evening, as roughly a hundred people filtered into Ronald Feldman Fine Arts at 31 Mercer St. for the private fundraiser headlined by Vice President Joe Biden, those milling about out front debated the issues of the day — chief among them, concern that younger voters who supported Obama in 2008 would sit out next week's election.
"I was out there for Obama," said Jean, of Brooklyn, who was walking past when he saw scores of Secret Service agents amassed on Mercer Street. "But you turn on the TV and there's so much negativity in politics I don't pay attention anymore."
Joan Dean was in full campaign mode and aghast to find an Obama supporter who didn't plan to vote.
"I think the Dems have the best agenda, and I'm concerned we may lose, especially on the House side," she said.
Dean, who lives on the Upper West Side, said she paid "very little" to attend the fundraiser for Gillibrand, who faces Republican opponent Joe DioGuardi on Nov. 2. The minimum donation was $125.
"The more money we raise, the more ads we can air, the more fliers we can hand out, the more people vote," she said.
Across the street, Fairy Pardiwalla was hoping for a glimpse of Biden.
She too had gotten involved in the 2008 elections, raising money for the Obama campaign despite being an Indian citizen who couldn't vote.
Now, she said, she was disappointed.
"I realize they can't instantly fix the economy, I understand it's hard to pull out of the wars. But what about civil liberties and gay rights?" asked Pardiwalla, 28, who lives on the Lower East Side.
"They say expectations were too high, but what about 'Dont Ask Don't Tell' and wiretapping? Those are low hanging fruit."
After about 30 minutes, a slightly deflated Pardiwalla, who works in an advertising firm opposite the SoHo gallery, gave up waiting and went back to work.