Another GOP bite of the Big Apple

New York: Sept. 11 events, record campaign spending enable Republican to succeed Giuliani.

November 08, 2001

GOTHAM'S HISTORY was changed yesterday. Michael Rubens Bloomberg's election as Rudolph W. Giuliani's successor marked the first time that two Republicans have been elected consecutively in New York, where Democrats hold a fivefold registration advantage.

Mr. Bloomberg, an imaginative media tycoon (and chairman of the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees), spent a record $50 million of his own money to defeat Democrat Mark Green. In the end, though, it wasn't the money that mattered but New Yorkers' renewed interest in their city's future after Sept. 11.

The attack and its aftermath made leadership the top issue. A re-energized Mayor Giuliani suddenly became a civic saint. His endorsement gave Mr. Bloomberg, who has no governmental experience, the credibility he needed for a winning edge.

Mr. Green, the city's public advocate, was not helped by Democratic infighting that acquired racial dimensions.

Former President Clinton campaigned on his behalf, but even that didn't help.

In the nation's only two races for governor, Democratic candidates wrested control of Virginia and New Jersey from Republicans.

Both of those victories underscored the message from New York: Nothing counts as much in elections as unity.

Republican disarray in Virginia made it easy for Democrat Mark R. Warner to win. His campaign thrust was so centrist it made party labels irrelevant.

In New Jersey, Democrat James E. McGreevey coasted to victory. He built a potent and diverse coalition of women, blacks and independents of varying incomes. His opponent never could gain the support of Republican conservatives.

The big news, though, was Mr. Bloomberg's victory in New York. It was an impressive achievement for a man who had never before run for political office.

Managing the nation's largest city will be a tough challenge for Mr. Bloomberg, who owns a financial news service as well as Web sites and radio and television stations. Even before Sept. 11, Mr. Giuliani would have been a tough act to follow; he is doubly so now.

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