- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2001

NEW YORK For many New Yorkers, today's Democratic mayoral primary runoff is about selecting the candidate capable of rebuilding the city and its economic vitality in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The two candidates, both seasoned public officials, Public Advocate Mark Green and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, emerged from the Sept. 25 primary with the highest vote total among four major contenders. Neither obtained the 40 percent needed for victory, triggering the runoff.
Today's winner will face billionaire media mogul and political neophyte Michael R. Bloomberg in the November general election. Mr. Bloomberg, who became a Republican less than a year ago, easily defeated former congressman Herman Badillo in the primary, which was rescheduled when terrorists toppled the World Trade Center on election day.
Most polls among likely voters indicate the Democrats are running neck and neck. The Marist Institute for Public Opinion showed each man with 45 percent of likely voters. A Quinnipiac University survey showed Mr. Green leading Mr. Ferrer, 46 percent to 41 percent. A Daily News polls gives Mr. Ferrer a 46 percent to 44 percent lead over Mr. Green.
With the city's economy in a tailspin and a $1.6 billion shortfall in the budget, the next mayor faces a difficult task. Keeping businesses in New York and restoring confidence in the city are top priorities. The Democratic candidates, liberal in their outlook, have proposed plans for the recovery, vague though they may be.
Mr. Ferrer, who has a list of impressive endorsements that includes former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch and real estate titan Donald Trump, envisions relocating financial services and other businesses from downtown Manhattan to the outer boroughs, such as his native Bronx. He called it "an opportunity to pursue much-needed redevelopment opportunities."
Mr. Green has argued that the new mayor should quickly replace the Lower Manhattan office space destroyed in the attacks. His opponent, he said, is an advocate for patronage.
Mr. Green, a former consumer activist, began his candidacy as the clear favorite, ahead by almost 30 percent in the polls. In the primary, however, he trailed Mr. Ferrer by 35 percent to 31 percent. Since then, many of the city's powerful labor unions have endorsed Mr. Ferrer.
Moreover, Mr. Ferrer has stunned political experts with an ability to stay the course, even when it came to denying Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's request for an extension of his term to deal with the attacks. Mr. Green acquiesced to the mayor, a move that may well hurt him with voters, some of whom were turned off by the mayor's attempt to dissolve term-limit laws and run for a third term.
Mr. Ferrer's most visible backer, the Rev. Al Sharpton, is a key part of the black/Hispanic voter coalition supporting the Puerto Rican-born Mr. Ferrer. In fact, his ability to attract votes, despite Mr. Sharpton's controversial presence or more likely because of it was seen as proof of a rapidly growing nonwhite electorate. The theme of his campaign from the start has been to address the needs of "the other New York."
The battle for white centrist Democrats, "the Giuliani Democrats," is crucial to both men.
Mr. Ferrer, who won only 7 percent of the white vote in the Sept. 25 primary, has turned pragmatist and tried to soften his "other New York" pitch.
Mr. Green, once a thorny critic of the New York Police Department, has changed his tune since the WTC disaster, and even drawn an endorsement from the police union.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bloomberg is very active on the stump, stressing his executive background and spending $1 million a week on TV spots.

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