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The New York Times
NEW YORK PRIMARY
Ferrer And Green Head For Runoff In Mayoral Race; Bloomberg Wins G.O.P. Nomination
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
September 26, 2001
Struggling to choose a new mayor precisely two weeks after a terrorist jet attack devastated the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York City Democrats on Tuesday extended the primary contest an additional 16 days by sending two candidates, Mark Green and Fernando Ferrer, into a runoff for their party's nomination, according to unofficial returns.
There was no ambiguity on the Republican side, where Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire communications entrepreneur, trounced his opponent, Herman Badillo, to become the Republican mayoral candidate in the general election on Nov. 6.
The outcome on the Democratic side with turnout as depressed as the spirits of many New Yorkers, on a gray day in which the smell of fire still hung in the downtown air means that an already stilted contest that had stopped midvote on Sept. 11 will continue through a runoff on Oct. 11. None of the Democrats won more than 40 percent, which would have eliminated the requirement for the second round of elections.
As it was, the four Democrats had been awkwardly grappling with how to campaign, or whether to campaign at all, in a city that had been traumatized by the terrorist attack, which occurred less than three hours after the polls opened on the first primary day. They had been grappling with the increasing popularity of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani as he has guided New York through this crisis, and with suggestions by Mr. Giuliani that he was looking for a way to circumvent the term limits law that had prevented him from running for a third term.
The two Democrats who will now face each other are long-time fixtures in New York government: Mr. Green, who is finishing his second term as the public advocate, and Mr. Ferrer, who has been the Bronx borough president for 14 years. They defeated Alan G. Hevesi, the city comptroller, and Peter F. Vallone, the City Council speaker.
With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, this morning Mr. Ferrer was leading with 249,592, or 36 percent of the vote; Mr. Green won 217,790 votes, or 31 percent. Mr. Vallone followed with 140,969 votes, or 20 percent; Mr. Hevesi garnered 85,827 votes, or 12 percent and George N. Spitz had 8,399 votes, or 1 percent.
On the Republican side, with 90 percent of the vote counted, Mr. Bloomberg prevailed with 43,754 votes or 72 percent against 17,032 or 28 percent for Mr. Badillo.
In a survey of voters leaving the polls on Tuesday, two-thirds of the Democrats declared that they approved of the way Mr. Giuliani was handling his job. And roughly 40 percent of the Democrats said that if a way were found to put Mr. Giuliani's name on the ballot in November and Mr. Giuliani's aides are looking for one they would vote for him over any of the Democrats who have spent the better part of the past four years preparing for this vote.
On the Republican side, 15 percent of the voters in the survey said they had chosen a write-in candidate. Those votes will not be tallied immediately, but it is more than likely that the name most written-in on the Republican ballot will be Mr. Giuliani's.
In other races, according to unofficial figures compiled by The Associated Press, Betsy Gotbaum, a former parks commissioner, was leading in the Democratic primary for public advocate with 140,371 votes, with 791 of the 878 total precincts reporting. She was followed by Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer, with 94,986 votes, and City Councilman Stephen DiBrienza, with 92,921 votes.
William C. Thompson won the Democratic nomination for city comptroller, defeating Herbert E. Berman, who conceded.
In Democratic primary races that were tantamount to general election victories, three of the five borough president posts were decided on Tuesday. With at least 90 percent of the vote counted, Helen M. Marshall, a City Council member, won in Queens and Marty Markowitz, a state senator, won in Brooklyn, according to the unofficial returns. With 90 percent of the Bronx precincts counted by mid-morning today, Adolfo Carrion, a member of the City Council, ledwith 42,913 votes (40 percent), followed by Pedro Espada Jr., a state sentator, with 39,257 (37 percent), and June Margolin Eisland, a City Council member, with 24,077 (23 percent).
On Staten Island, James P. Molinaro, the deputy borough president, was a runaway winner in the Republican primary with 63 percent of the vote over State Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere.
The primary came on an intermittently rainy day in New York. Voters trickled to the polls along streets draped with American flags, and past memorials of candles and posters, some of which were streaked blurry by the rain.
The campaign headquarters last night usually a place of loud bands, balloons, banners, bustling bars, cheering and blaring television sets, at least on the winners' side were as sedate as a classroom, reflecting these strange times. Mr. Bloomberg did not even rent a ballroom. Instead, he prepared to deliver a victory speech from his campaign headquarters on East 56th street. Rather than a platform filled with television cameras, there was only one, providing a feed to all interested television stations.
This was, in the context of New York's history, an unusually significant election even before the attack on Sept. 11. New Yorkers are electing virtually an entirely new city government mayor, public advocate, city comptroller and most of the City Council because the city's term limits law has forced an exodus of incumbents. And the election signaled, or so it seemed, the end of Mr. Giuliani's era in New York.
A Democratic runoff would take place over the next 16 days; the vote is on Oct. 11, a Thursday. Each of the Democrats would be allowed to spend an additional $2.6 million on his runoff campaign.
In a Green-Ferrer runoff, Mr. Green would appear to be in a stronger position. The survey of voters found that, given that choice, Mr. Green was favored by about half of the New Yorkers who showed up, compared with 40 percent who supported Mr. Ferrer. And the survey showed that Mr. Green is best positioned to pick up most of the votes that went to Mr. Hevesi and Mr. Vallone. Nearly 60 percent of Mr. Hevesi's supporters, and about 50 percent of Mr. Vallone's supporters, said they would support Mr. Green over Mr. Ferrer.
In normal times, the fact that the Democratic primary has apparently come down to two candidates competing for a nomination that has historically been tantamount to winning the mayoralty itself would presage a fierce two weeks of campaigning. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York by six to one, and Mr. Green last night described the eventual Democratic nominee as "the presumptive next mayor," a characterization that Mr. Bloomberg would probably dispute.
But both Mr. Green and Mr. Ferrer have proven to be mild candidates already this year. And there will be resistance to the two of them changing their tone, assuming there is a runoff. Aides to both said it would be unseemly, during such bleak times, to engage in politics as usual.
"It will be different," Mr. Green said last night before the polls closed, sitting on a yellow couch in his suite on the 44th floor of the Sheraton Hotel, next to his wife, Deni, and his children, Jonah and Jenya. "I'm very hopeful that any runoff, and certainly the general election, will be positive, and future-oriented, and will and should avoid the kind of petty personal, nasty, negative politics that we sometimes see."
Setting the table for a likely runoff, Mr. Green had already begun addressing how he would govern the city during this crisis, outlining ways to rebuild Lower Manhattan and improve security. It is a theme that his aides said he would likely stick to in the days ahead.
"Democrats and all voters should select the person who has the best leadership skills to unite and rebuild New York," he said. "That's urgent, and we have done so much to talk to the voters of New York that I am serene and confident."
Mr. Ferrer had not provided specific proposals for how he would govern the city under these newly changed circumstances. But he has repeatedly emphasized that he would not abandon the central appeal of his campaign to represent the interests of New Yorkers who, he said, did not benefit from the good economic times under Mr. Giuliani. An aide said Mr. Ferrer's advisers were now considering how they would conduct the campaign from here.
Mr. Green has a financial advantage in a runoff: he has already raised enough money to spend the maximum amount allowable in a runoff under the city's campaign finance law. By contrast, Mr. Ferrer would need, in the days ahead, to spend time raising money to be financially competitive with Mr. Green.
Mr. Ferrer is seeking to become the city's first Puerto Rican mayor and to that extent, he had sought to build a coalition with large support of black leaders. Over the past month, Mr. Ferrer enlisted the support of some of the most influential black leaders in New York, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The survey of voters leaving the poll suggested that that appeal had some resonance: more than half the black voters and almost three-quarters of Latino voters chose Mr. Ferrer.
And Mr. Ferrer's promise to represent what he described as "the other New York" New Yorkers who did not benefit from the improvement in New York's fortunes over the past eight years was reflected in the economic standing of voters who supported Mr. Ferrer. Almost half the voters who said their annual income was $30,000 or less voted for Mr. Ferrer, according to the survey. Voters who made over $100,000 a year were divided between Mr. Vallone and Mr. Green.