The distinctive blast of a fire truck's horn mingled with the cry of sirens and resounded along Manhattan's Seventh Avenue and up into the 10th-floor meeting room.
As the din grew, Greg Rigby, the Cayuga County Conservative Party chairman, halted his nominating speech for U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long.
"I'll give way to New York's Finest," he said.
"Bravest," a few listeners said.
"I apologize," he replied. "I live 300 miles away and I'm a slow learner."
That won Rigby some laughs before he resumed.
November brings their second and final chance to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand before she travels the path to long-term incumbency in the form of a full, six-year term.
Monday proved a good day for Long, a 51-year-old lawyer and conservative activist. With only a smattering of early votes for her rival Republican candidates in this room at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan, Long came away with the envied cross-endorsement of the Conservative state committee, giving her a second line if she wins the GOP statewide primary on June 26. The roll call began with Suffolk chairman Ed Walsh delivering one proxy after another for Long.
Not only did Long get Conservative backing to add to her 47 percent plurality of the delegate votes at the GOP convention last week in Rochester. She also presented herself with a certain campaign savvy and a readiness for prime time, despite never having run for public office.
Her acceptance speech hit the resonant notes. She praised one GOP primary rival, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, as "a true gentleman" and "American success story," and hailed the other, Rep. Robert Turner (R-Rockaway Point), for an inspirational underdog win last year.
She called the 2012 election a choice between "radically different paths" and said Gillibrand "has maxed out her credit with New Yorkers and her Washington spending spree is about to end."
Long hailed Conservative chairman Michael (no relation) Long as the best of allies. She attacked the national health insurance law signed by President Barack Obama. She alluded to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's having once called Gillibrand "hot," with the punchline: "So much for liberals respecting women for their minds."
Long said she stood "with Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan and against Senator Gillibrand on the federal mandate" she said would force Catholic hospitals, schools and other institutions to "violate their most fundamental First Amendment freedoms."
She called for reversing current energy policy and slammed the Dodd-Frank law regulating financial institutions, declaring it the "Federal Bureaucrat Full Employment Act." She proclaimed solidarity with Israel and with those who serve in the U.S. armed forces.
Afterward, Long crisply parried news media questions. She answered early charges of extremism from the Gillibrand camp in the accepted way, branding them a distraction from key issues such as jobs.
For several reasons, Long -- like Maragos and Turner -- appears an early long shot for senator against Gillibrand, nominee of the Democratic and Independence parties. But for the moment, at least, Long looks like a credible prospect for red-staters in this largely blue state.