Thursday, November 8, 2001

Democrats will be moving into statehouses once more in New Jersey and Virginia, but Republicans can still call New York City’s Gracie Mansion home after Mike Bloomberg, the Republican candidate, pulled off a truly stunning upset victory over Mark Green, the Democrat. In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 5-1, Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire financial-media mogul, became the 108th mayor of New York City by a margin of 50-47 percent. Worth appending to this victory is a scrap of perhaps not-so-trivial trivia: Mr. Bloomberg’s victory marks the first time New York has elected two Republican mayors in a row.
In conceding the election early Wednesday morning, public advocate Mark Green made it plain, and rather ungraciously so, that he believed it was solely the $50 million that Mr. Bloomberg pumped into his campaign that had done in the Democrats. As vital as the steady flow of Bloomberg cash was, however, what really gave the Bloomberg campaign the breath of life was the endorsement of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
If it could be said that New York got any kind of a break on September 11, it came from the fact that Rudy Giuliani was mayor. His unbowed strength, steady calm and unstinting devotion to the city during this extraordinary crisis has set a modern benchmark for leadership besides being of immeasurable comfort and aid to the citizens of New York and, indeed, the nation. But even before the fires in Lower Manhattan turn to ashes, Mr. Giuliani, because of term limits, will be leaving an office to which he assuredly would have won re-election. Given Mr. Giuliani’s near-mythic stature in New York, it is little wonder that the candidate he endorsed, even one without previous political experience, won.
But first, a little mudslinging. Messrs. Green and Bloomberg clashed in a fierce battle of the attack ads. Did all that electronic ordnance have an impact on voters? Hard to say. The fact is that, even though Mr. Green led in the polls all year long right up until the Giuliani endorsement none of the candidates seemed to have much inspired New Yorkers. (The New York Post, for example, refrained from endorsing any candidate.) This time around, basic symbolism seems to have loomed larger than party affiliation, personality or politics as usual.
And so, New Yorkers elected the man anointed by Rudy Giuliani, not the choice of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy to whom Mr. Green appeared joined at the hip by campaign’s end. New Yorkers chose not to elect a liberal career politician to lead the city through its current economic and confidence crisis, but rather a successful businessman. “New York is alive and well and open for business!” Mr. Bloomberg said in victory. We wish him and his city well.

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