* * * *
Rudy and I—coming from contrasting traditions, styles, and beliefs—have mutual respect and hostility. At a fund-raising party September 9, I joke that “the thing about Giuliani is, either you love him… or he hates you.” But I abandon that line and line of reasoning after he transforms from Nixon to Churchill in those 24 hours, when he so skillfully rallies the city through the worst day in her history.
Campaigning resumes the following Monday for the now-rescheduled September 25 primary. The press and public are closely watching how Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer, City Controller Alan Hevesi, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and I react to the very changed and fraught circumstances. Ferrer says that he understands what the city needs because in the Bronx he’s seen “rubble bounce” and because he witnessed the 1990 Happy Land arson fire that killed 87; he adds that rebuilding funds should be “dispersed around the city.” Editorial opinion is hostile to what they think sounds more like patronage than recovery.
In reaction to what many folks regard as Giuliani’s divisive ways, my campaign slogan from the start is “a Mayor for All” – and I often appear with both former Mayor David Dinkins and former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
I win the Times endorsement, Vallone the News. But Ferrer and his top adviser, former Dinkins deputy mayor Bill Lynch, implement their Black-Brown strategy of rallying the minority community to the polls, aided by the huge coordinated effort of the 1199 Hospital Workers Union. This is an understandable political plan given the lineup of three other white candidates—hence Ferrer’s slogan that focuses on “the two New Yorks” and “the other New York.” I remember one day campaigning in the Bronx when a young man sees me, comes over, and says, “Green, I think you’re great, but, hey, I’m a Latino!” He shrugs, I laugh, and we both get it.
In the Democratic primary, Ferrer wins 36 percent of the vote, me 31 percent. There will be a runoff.
* * * *
The campaign is seen largely through the lens of the singular calamity. Interviews, press conferences, and street talk focus on post-9/11 policies, not so much the usual mayoral fare of education, crime, taxes, services. Children look up, frightened, when planes fly overhead; many Manhattan residents carry water bottles to clear their throats, which are raspy from the metallic air.
I attend numerous funerals of fallen uniformed personnel, as the Fire Department lost about half as many men in one day—343—than had died in the Department’s entire history. The first is the saddest—my friend, Father Mychal Judge, the Fire Department chaplain. A beloved figure whom I got to know through our mutual friend, hero cop Steve McDonald, “Father Mike” is the first recorded fatality on September 11, when debris from the World Trade Center towers killed him as he was administering last rites to victims. Officer McDonald, former President Clinton, Cardinal Egan, Mayor Giuliani, and I, among other dignitaries, deliver eulogies to 3,000 mourners downtown at the St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church.
* * * *
* * * *
It’s 3:15, September 27, on Yom Kippur, two days into the runoff. The mayor’s office is calling to ask that I meet with him at 5 p.m. at the West Side piers, where he’s set up a temporary office now that City Hall has been evacuated. The subject is not mentioned.
I’m ushered alone into a small, windowless room with the mayor. Characteristically, he gets right to the point: “Look, Mark, the city is in an emergency and I have my Cabinet working together every hour to get through this—and who knows if something else might happen? I’m asking each of the three remaining candidates to support a proposed legal change to give me and my experienced team 90 more days after the scheduled January 1 swearing-in to finish what we started.”
Well that’s pretty creative and chutzpadick I think. “Mr. Mayor, I understand your desire to finish what you’re doing. But even Lincoln during the Civil War, a worse emergency, went ahead with a scheduled election in 1864. Postponing the swearing-in would set a terrible precedent.” The meeting lasts five minutes and ends with Giuliani asking me to “think about it more since Mike has already agreed."
En route home, mayoral aide Denny Young calls my cell to imply that the mayor will publicly condemn me if I don’t agree to support a 90-day extension—this at a time when Giuliani aides are openly speculating and newspapers reporting that “America’s Mayor” might seek to change the state law's term limits and run again himself.