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THE NEW YORK TIMES
2001 ELECTION RESULTS: THE DEMOCRATS
Green Defeats Ferrer In N.Y. Mayor Runoff
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
October 12, 2001
Mark Green defeated Fernando Ferrer in a racially divided contest. MAYOR (D) With his wife, Almira, at his side, Fernando Ferrer conceded last night that Mark Green had won the Democratic mayoral runoff.
Mark Green defeated Fernando Ferrer in a racially divided contest.
With his wife, Almira, at his side, Fernando Ferrer conceded last night that Mark Green had won the Democratic mayoral runoff.
Against a backdrop of civic trauma and deep anxiety about the future of New York City, Mark Green won the Democratic nomination for mayor last night. He defeated Fernando Ferrer in a racially divided contest in which voters embraced Mr. Green's declaration that recovering from the World Trade Center attack should be the central focus of New York's next mayor.
The victory by Mr. Green, the city's public advocate, derailed the second attempt in four years by Mr. Ferrer, the Bronx borough president, to become New York's first Puerto Rican mayor. But Mr. Ferrer came close to assembling a winning coalition of Hispanic and black voters, in a way that suggested that this election marked a new chapter in the continuing ethnic and political realignment in New York. One-quarter of the primary electorate was Hispanic, and the turnout of more than 800,000 was even higher than it was in the first round of Democratic voting on Sept. 25.
Mr. Ferrer called Mr. Green to concede at 10:40 p.m., before heading down to address supporters at the headquarters of 1199/S.E.I.U., New York's Health and Human Service Union, on West 43rd Street.
"Losing is never easy," a subdued Mr. Ferrer said, after shushing some in the crowd who booed upon hearing that he had called to congratulate Mr. Green. "But on Sept. 11, something happened here in the city of New York that very quickly put the concept of loss in perspective."
Speaking into a microphone adorned with a tiny American flag, he said, "I want you to hear this clearly: You opened a door that will never be closed again."
Mr. Green declared victory at 11:15 p.m, bounding onto the stage at the Sheraton New York in Midtown with his wife, Deni Frand, and two children, Jonah and Jenya. He immediately attended to two political imperatives: addressing the concerns of Ferrer supporters who were upset about the hard-hitting campaign Mr. Green directed at Mr. Ferrer in the final hours of the contest, and setting out the themes that he would use in the general election against Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire communications entrepreneur and Republican nominee for mayor.
Mr. Green praised Mr. Ferrer as "an extraordinary leader of idealism and vision and eloquence." He added, "We need you, we need your ideas and I can't wait to speak to you and your supporters to unite with us and win in November."
And alluding to Mr. Bloomberg, he said, "Now more than ever, New York needs experience that money can't buy, because mayor is not an entry-level position."
He then chanted: "Message beats money! Message beats money!"
With 100 percent of the returns tallied, Mr. Green led Mr. Ferrer by 52 percent to 48 percent, according to unofficial returns provided by The Associated Press.
With his victory last night, Mr. Green heads into an abbreviated 26- day general election campaign with Mr. Bloomberg, who is financing his own campaign for mayor at a multimillion-dollar-a-week clip. Mr. Green's advisers said that he had $4 million on hand to finance the race but that one of his first tasks now was a quick burst of fund-raising to counter Mr. Bloomberg's financial advantage.
And they began laying out what they said would be Mr. Green's central argument: that New Yorkers could not, in this crisis, afford to elect someone for mayor who had never before held public office.
Mr. Green, 56, who began his career at the side of Ralph Nader, won his party's nomination at the end of a primary conducted during what may have been the most traumatic stretch in the history of this city. The terrorist attack on the trade center occurred three hours after voting had began on what was supposed to have been Primary Day. From that day on, it shaped how much politicking the candidates believed they could appropriately do, what they talked about, their struggle to win the attention of voters, and even the date of the election itself.
The victory by Mr. Green came after two weeks in which a characteristically confident candidate, who for most of the year had presented himself as the favorite to win the nomination, made what his own aides described as a series of mistakes. That included running an overly cautious campaign, in contrast to Mr. Ferrer's harder-edged promise to represent "the other New York," to agreeing to a request by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to extend his term by up to three months. That decision was sharply attacked by Mr. Ferrer.
By last Friday, when Mr. Green's internal polls showed his candidacy in danger of collapse, the public advocate commenced a series of attacks on Mr. Ferrer, questioning his ability to lead New York through this era, that he did not appreciate the magnitude of the trade center crisis, and had shifted his positions on issues of concern to Democratic primary voters, in particular the death penalty and abortion.
Mr. Green's campaign broadcast a last-minute television advertisement that ended by demanding, "Can we take a chance" on Mr. Ferrer? Mr. Green's campaign kept up the barrage with automated telephone calls and mailings throughout the last day of the contest.
Accordingly, Mr. Green's campaign advisers displayed a wave of relief upon learning of the first round of surveys of voters leaving the polls that suggested he was heading for a victory. "I hate losing," one of his advisers said sarcastically, shortly after learning the numbers. Mr. Green's press office sent out a victory-lap schedule for Friday at 5:08 p.m. yesterday, though taking care to mark it as "of course, a tentative schedule."
Mr. Green's victory ended an elongated primary campaign that, in the end, served to reinforce the central theme of Mr. Ferrer's campaign: that New York is two cities, which, based on ethnicity, race and economic status, held very different views about who should succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
According to a survey of voters leaving the polls, Mr. Ferrer, 51, defeated Mr. Green by huge margins among Latino and black voters, as well as among those earning under $30,000 a year. By contrast, Mr. Green received more than 80 percent of the white vote, who made up almost 50 percent of the turnout. He had overwhelming support among those Democrats who said they made over $100,000 a year.
Mr. Green was clearly helped by Mr. Ferrer's decision to align himself with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who stood right behind Mr. Ferrer as he conceded last night. While Mr. Sharpton helped Mr. Ferrer win enough black support to come in first in the multicandidate Democratic field in the first round of the primary, it appeared to contribute to his failure to attract the white voters that his advisers had always believed were crucial to his chances of defeating Mr. Green. Nearly two- thirds of white voters said that Mr. Sharpton's endorsement made them less likely to vote for Mr. Ferrer.
Mr. Ferrer's advisers said that Mr. Green's supporters had been distributing copies of cartoons from The New York Post that portrayed, in various manifestations, Mr. Ferrer as the diminutive puppet to a balloon-bellied Mr. Sharpton, as part of their last-minute campaign efforts. Mr. Green's aides denied that they had circulated the cartoons.
Mr. Sharpton, in an interview, said he did not believe that he had hurt Mr. Ferrer's campaign, and said that Mr. Ferrer's advisers had erred in not putting him out more prominently in the final days of the campaign.
Mr. Sharpton said the results, by their closeness, had shown "the strength of our coalition."
"Clearly, he said, "the Democratic Party can't function without us. That's clear, no matter what happens."
In contrast to Mr. Ferrer's decision to align himself with Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Green's decision to make the World Trade Center attack central to his campaign rebounded to his benefit.
The public advocate issued a series of speeches about what he would do to deal with reconstruction and security in the wake of the attack, and regularly described it as the most important issue facing New York. By contrast, Mr. Ferrer repeatedly said that the crisis in Lower Manhattan should not overshadow New York City's effort to deal with existing problems, and he proposed dispersing some of the reconstruction in the financial center to other parts of New York City.
Mr. Green did markedly better with voters who said that preventing future terrorist attacks and rebuilding the financial district should be the top concerns of the next mayor. Mr. Green also did overwhelmingly better among voters who said that being a strong leader or having experience in government was the top consideration for the job.
That said, Mr. Ferrer's supporters clearly liked their candidate more than Mr. Green's liked theirs. Among Mr. Ferrer's supporters, about two- thirds said they were voting for him because they strongly favored him. By contrast, just 4 in 10 said they were voting for Mr. Green because they strongly supported him.
Mr. Green does, though, appear to be an inheritor of Mr. Giuliani's voters. Mr. Green won the support of nearly two-thirds of the Democrats who said they approved of Mr. Giuliani's job performance.