I take a call from Mellman early in the general election.* “I’ve never worked for a candidate who lost an election as far ahead as you are,” he says. “But then, I’ve never worked against a candidate spending a million-plus a day and gaining a point a day either. You can’t assume anything here.”
* * * *
The Yankees win the pennant and get into the World Series. Hooray. But this gives Bloomberg additional opportunities to advertise the endorsement of the now-lionized Giuliani every inning to “middle middle Democrats,” as Team Bloomberg calls them. Oy. David Garth, Bloomberg’s legendary media guru, says in the Village Voice after the election that the Giuliani ad netted his candidate sixteen points.
Koch endorses Bloomberg. "Why?" he is asked. “Because Green’s obnoxious!” Then, during our one official general-election debate on WABC-TV, Mike starts arguing that I’m divisive and egotistical. When you’re attacked as obnoxious by Ed Koch, and racial by Al Sharpton, and egotistical by someone who’s written a book called Bloomberg on Bloomberg, something’s wrong.
During that debate, I recall thinking, I’m doing fine… but so is he. He’s smart, poised, well-spoken. As Butch Cassidy said of his pursuers, “Who are those guys?”
* * * *
The Independence Party run by Lenora Fulani has many unsavory ties and an anti-Semitic reputation. So, following Hillary Clinton’s lead in her 2000 Senate race, I refuse to even try for its endorsement. Mike tries very hard. My staff tell me that he’s giving them money.
* * * *
I begin the delayed and truncated general election with a 70–20 favorable-unfavorable rating—and a lead of twenty points. Going into the final weekend three weeks later, my favorable-unfavorable is 50–43 and it’s a dead heat.
The combination of 9/11 and the separate anthrax scare have given Bloomberg's candidacy a political rationale previously lacking (a businessman can rebuild the city)—and these events leave little room for normal political coverage, making paid commercials an even more valuable source of information. Indeed, the money disparity is worsening as my media buyer reports that stations have jacked up the price of ads precisely because of Mike’s monumental buy. Just when I need a bigger boat, mine is shrinking.
* * * *
It’s Thursday, November 1, and Governor George Pataki is calling mid-morning. “Mark, because we need to restore the city as quickly as possible, I want you to know that I’m today appointing a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to begin that effort.”
A pause as I process this unexpected and unappreciated pronouncement. “Governor, you can’t wait five days to find out who will be the city’s next mayor working with you on that for years to come? Whether it’s Mike or me, he should be instrumentally involved. Why Thursday and not next Wednesday?” He keeps repeating something about having to move quickly, which we both know is bull****. (Seven years later, when ground zero is still two big holes in the ground, some of his former staffers acknowledge that he was worried that if I won and he subsequently announced an LMDC, he’d have to share responsibility and credit with a Democratic mayor in the eventual reconstruction effort.)
* * * *
It’s November 2, the Friday before the Tuesday general election, and the Daily News is reporting that, at a meeting two weeks before at Nick’s Lobster House in Brooklyn, a few elected officials supporting me openly talked about how to exploit Sharpton’s endorsement of Ferrer in white neighborhoods. Freddy is beside himself. “What will I say to my people?” he tells me in a tense call in my car as I’m leaving Sylvia’s Restaurant with Mayor Dinkins. Ferrer implies that, as a condition of his continued support, I fire the two "Green for Mayor" people at the meeting who he believes were behind the flyers and robo-calls.
I question them—Brooklyn district leader Ralph Perfetto and ACORN head Jon Kest—about their alleged involvement. They adamantly and convincingly deny any such role. An assemblyman at the Nick’s gathering later tells me that State Senator Carl Kruger had indeed urged the group to attack Sharpton but, when Jon refused to go along because “that’s not the campaign Mark wants to run,” Kruger stormed out and promptly endorsed… Ferrer! I call President Clinton off a golf course to ask him to try to calm Freddy down. “Sure, I’ll reach out to him. Do what you have to do to get by this.”
After a meeting of top aides at my home that afternoon, my legal due process genes supersede my political ones—I can’t bring myself to summarily fire and destroy the careers of two people who in fact neither had anything to do with the flyer nor acted improperly at the meeting.
*This article has been corrected to show that the call Green received from Mellman was during the general election, not the runoff.