- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 6, 2001

NEW YORK Voters go the polls today to choose a mayor who, in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, will face some of the most serious challenges in the city's history: rebuilding Lower Manhattan and invigorating the troubled economy.
How the new mayor will do that has infused the campaign rhetoric with a litany of promises to restore the city's confidence and preserve the legacy of the widely popular Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
"My rival hasn't spent one minute in public office," said Mark Green, 56, the Democratic candidate and longtime critic of big business in their only live televised debate.
"He will tear apart Giuliani's City Hall and turn our city back," warned media tycoon Michael R. Bloomberg, 59, in a recent TV ad.
In the final days of the campaign, political sources are talking seriously about an upset. Mr. Bloomberg, who so far spent an estimated $41 million on his mayoral run, is closing a wide gap between him Mr. Green, the city's public advocate. The media baron's surge may be the benefit of an endorsement from Mr. Giuliani just 10 days before Election Day and a blizzard of Bloomberg television commercials costing tens of millions of dollars.
The polls among likely voters illustrate the shift toward Mr. Bloomberg. A Quinnipiac University survey released yesterday shows the candidates tied at 42 percent each with 16 percent undecided.
A Marist Institute poll released over the weekend has Mr. Green leading his opponent 46 percent to 42 percent with 12 percent undecided. Mr. Green could benefit from the undecided vote in a city where the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 5-to-1.
Comparing the election to the recent World Series games, the New York Post said of Mr. Green: "If he blows this, he'll be a worse November closer than the Diamondbacks pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim."
If Mr. Bloomberg wins, it would be the first time that a Republican candidate succeeded a Republican mayor.
It would also suggest that the electorate has little confidence in the Democrats to handle crises.
Although they have often outlined their ideas on how to rebuild Lower Manhattan, both men are scrambling to secure the black and Hispanic vote in these late hours of the campaign.
Former President Bill Clinton and Mr. Green had a very public chicken and ribs lunch in Harlem on Friday near the former's post-presidential office, and Mr. Clinton and his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, attended a fund-raiser dinner for their longtime friend over the weekend.
For his part, Mr. Bloomberg has charged Mr. Green's forces with playing the race card in the Democratic primary by telling voters that a vote for his opponent, Freddie Ferrer, was a vote for the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist. Countering the charge, Mr. Green told a group of black ministers, "Now a billionaire Republican comes along who joined four white male-only clubs and then denied discrimination was a problem and who's trying to racially divide Democrats in the city."
With the high-spending tycoon breathing down his back, Mr. Green in one of his TV commercials referred to an issue that has been circulating in press circles for months, namely that in the 1990s Mr. Bloomberg's company was sued for sexual harassment three times. One of the suits was against Mr. Bloomberg himself.
According to the Village Voice, in a rape case brought by a woman against one of Mr. Bloomberg's managers, the Republican contender said in a deposition that to him the only proof of rape would be "an unimpeachable third-party witness."
Mr. Green jumped on the issue just last week, accusing Mr. Bloomberg of being "contemptuous" toward women. Mr. Bloomberg fired back that his rival was practicing "the politics of personal destruction."


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