* * * *
On October 11, I win the runoff 52 to 48 percent. But Ferrer doesn’t return my calls seeking his endorsement, as defeated primary candidates always give (me, too, in other elections). Beyond a Board of Elections counting snafu (that shrinks the margin to 51–49), his camp is seething because of the “Take a chance?” ad and a flyer handed out over the final weekend in white, conservative parts of Brooklyn that reprints a New York Post cartoon mocking him and taunting him for kissing up to Sharpton. When first told about the flyers and similar robo-calls the day after the runoff, I denounce them as “reprehensible” and vow that any “asshole(s)” who did that would never work in any Green administration.
A week passes. No call back and no endorsement. As I’m preparing for the annual Al Smith dinner at the Waldorf, Ferrer’s office calls: The Borough President will see you tonight at his campaign office. Okay. At 9:30 p.m. I leave a dais of 100 religious and political celebrities and, incongruously attired in white tie and tails, go to the East Side, sweep by several reporters who had been tipped off, and enter a conference room with Ferrer, Lynch, Sharpton, and assemblyman and campaign manager Roberto Ramirez. Their grim faces convey the feel of a police third-degree, without the lamp shining in my face.
They harangue me and my campaign manager, Rich Schrader, about perceived offenses. An annoyed Schrader soon walks out in a huff, leaving the Democratic mayoral nominee alone to face his interrogators. I explain again that I knew nothing about the Brooklyn flyers and have repeatedly condemned them... but should that incident really justify returning the mayoralty to Republican control for four or eight more years? Over an hour later, Freddy suggests a clinching meeting the next day with his leading minority supporters. I agree.
In the same venue on Friday morning, October 19, I join Ferrer and Representative Charlie Rangel, Representative Greg Meeks, State Senator David Paterson, and several dozen others from the Ferrer camp—as well as some of my supporters like former Mayor Dinkins, assemblyman Denny Farrell, Brooklyn party chair Clarence Norman—to have a larger version of the prior evening’s conversation.* The questions are pointed but respectful—and I feel completely calm and self-assured given my relationships with this community. Also aware that minority leaders are rightly sensitive to being taken for granted at election time, I comment in closing that as much as I hope to win their support, I especially want their participation in governing the city. We’d be a team not for a month but a term.
Ferrer endorses me publicly at a 2 p.m. Unity Press Conference” that day with a few dozen leaders from the meeting. (Later, several Ferrer supporters would condense my imploring hour into this one translation: I don’t need you to win. As a law professor of mine once said, “To the jaundiced eye all looks yellow.”)
* * * *
Mike Bloomberg is a rookie candidate who makes his share of mistakes and flubs. But he rarely engages the media—or me for that matter—because he doesn’t have to. He needn’t comply with the usual protocols of making fund-raising calls, campaigning daily at subway stops, showing up at every evening event… because his asset is his assets.
I make 30,000 phone calls and the campaign organizes 200 fund-raisers over three years to raise $12.5 million, the most ever for mayor in any American city, with one exception—the $74 million in checks that Bloomberg writes to himself. He spends more in one city than Richard Nixon did in 1972 in the whole country, more than Al Gore did the prior year to win a national nomination. After the campaign, I file a telephone directory-size book of nearly 10,000 donors with the Campaign Finance Board; if Bloomberg hadn’t opted out of the public finance system, his filing would have been comprised of one name on one page – his own, Bloomberg’s $17 million expenditure on daily direct mail is alone more than I spend for everything total. He sends people free radios with his name on them. Every time I turn on the TV, look up at Madison Square Garden during a Knicks game, look down at the ground at subway stops, there he is, in English, Spanish, Chinese, whatever.
In April of 2001, Bloomberg is asked by New York Magazine about reports that he could spend as much as $30 million, and he responds that the number is both too high and "obscene." Thirty million, jeez, that would be breathtaking. But I doubted that even that amount could overcome my record, recognition, and history of service. Indeed, after the first $50 million, he is still trailing.
*This article has been corrected to show that Denny Farrell was an assemblyman in 2001, not the state Democratic party chair.