In a stunning turn of events, Republican Michael Bloomberg defeated Democrat Mark Green by a narrow margin in a white- knuckle race to succeed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani that drew many Queens voters to the GOP camp.
The campaign had started off on a civilized footing but turned acrimonious and combative in the final days before the election.
In the end when all of the votes were counted, Bloomberg had 49 percent of the citywide vote in his upset of Green, who captured 48 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
Queens voters came out in droves for Bloomberg. He captured more then 55 percent of the borough vote compared to Greens nearly 44 percent, preliminary results showed.
As the two candidates crisscrossed Queens and the other boroughs in the last days leading up to Tuesdays election, each bashed the others character at any opportunity they had.
Bloomberg made four different stops in Queens on Election Eve, hitting Ridgewood, two spots in Astoria and Whitestone. But Green decided to take a pass on the borough, spending most of his last day on the election trail in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
About a week before the election both candidates bombarded the public with negative advertisements condemning each others actions and past histories in the hopes of getting a leg up on his opponent as the voting margin between the two candidates shrank.
The Bloomberg victory shocked New York, which has historically voted along the Democratic line, except for a few blips on the screen like Fiorello LaGuardia, John Lindsey and Giuliani.
This was a very tough and close race, but we won, Bloomberg told a cheering crowd at his victory party at B.B. Kings Blues Club near Times Square. I know it is disappointing for Mark and his supporters, but we need them to join with us to make the city better.
Green said he and his campaign gave it all they had, but that was not enough. When he was told last month that no candidate had won an election when outspent by $45 million, Green said he thought he could beat the odds.
We did good, but Michael Bloomberg did a lot better, Green said. And we should all congratulate him.
Bloombergs strong showing in the race and his enormous jump from being 16 percentage points behind in the Oct. 24 Quinnipac poll to a statistical dead heat as of Nov. 3 and victory on Nov. 6 could be traced in part to his media blitz.
The decision by Giuliani, a hero to most New Yorkers after his handling of the World Trade Center disaster and his inspired leadership of the shaken city, to endorse Bloomberg also paid big dividends for the candidate.
In Queens, Bloomberg made huge inroads in the borough where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a four-to-one margin. According to a Marist Institute Poll released over the weekend, Bloomberg led Green by 14 percentage points 50 percent to 36 percent in the borough. Queens, which has a history of voting for a Republican mayor, was instrumental in propelling Giuliani to his two election wins for City Hall.
As the campaign drew to a close, Bloomberg picked up steam while Green was frozen in his tracks. One reason could have been the media blitz. Bloomberg spent more than $30 million compared to Greens nearly $8 million on radio, print and TV ads.
In total Bloomberg who is financing his own campaign has spent more than $45 million compared to Greens $10.5 million.
Greens campaign hit a major bump with accusations that he resorted to racist strategies during the Democratic run-off against Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, a Puerto Rican-born candidate with a strong following in the black and Hispanic communities.
Green denied that his office was involved in fliers that implied a vote for Ferrer was a vote for the Rev. Al Sharpton, the controversial black leader courted by the borough president to form a black and Hispanic coalition to back his candidacy.
The night before the general election Sharpton said he could not support Green because of the Ferrer flap before the run-off but would not encourage black voters to stay away from the polls.
Green has had his eye on the mayoralty since his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1998, which was ultimately won by U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer (D-New York).
A media mogul and former Democrat, Bloomberg turned Republican so he would not face a strong primary opponent. He has said he ran for the job in order to give back to the city and build on the tremendous success of the Giuliani administration.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2001 Community News Group
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