That night is our Unity Dinner of leading Democrats and celebrities, organized by Harvey Weinstein. Twelve-hundred people cram the Sheraton ballroom in midtown Manhattan to hear emcees Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon joke and host the Clintons, the Cuomos, and nearly all other Democratic luminaries, except one: Ferrer refuses to show. This fiasco dominates the news in the final three days of the general election.
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Monday, November 3, and I’m on a campaign bus beginning an all-nighter hitting all five boroughs. I feel excited, almost giddy as I joke with UFT president Randi Weingarten and other supporters who rotate on and off the ”Greenmobile.” At 5:45 p.m. I get a call from Schrader: “I just spoke to your pal [Ü ber-publicist] Ken Sunshine, who says that he’s been holed up in The Four Seasons Hotel for the past several hours eating and drinking in a private suite with Weinstein, Sharpton, and Ferrer. They want President Clinton to come over right away to broker a peace between you and Freddy and then hold a late-night press conference with everyone.” Fifteen minutes later, Clinton calls to ask what I want to do, since “it’s your campaign.”
“I want to end my campaign with today’s great Bryant Park event with you and Ted [Kennedy]. That’s the right focus for voters tomorrow, not literally eleventh-hour theatrics with Sharpton.” Clinton decides to go to the hotel to let the group know that a public event won’t happen. But when a scrum of press swarm his car, he keeps going, saying, “I know when I’ve been set up.”
The next morning—Election Day itself—an angry Weinstein switches sides and endorses Bloomberg. In a New Yorker profile after the election, Sharpton compares me to segregationist sheriffs.
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Election Day morning. Mayor Giuliani, then living in an apartment with two gay friends after his much-publicized breakup with Donna Hanover, sits at breakfast scanning the papers. “Green will win by four,” he authoritatively tells Howard Koeppel.
Election Night. At my campaign suite are several dozen anxious family, friends, pols, and aides, including President Clinton. “Be strong tonight and tomorrow for your father,” he knowingly cautions Jenya, my then-22-year-old daughter and volunteer coordinator.
At 7 p.m. all are guardedly optimistic since exit polls show me two points ahead. At 9:40, assemblyman Denny Farrell hands me tallies showing a lead of some 5,000 votes; at 10:33, it’s even, and I duck out to be alone in an adjacent bedroom to stare vacantly at draft victory and concession statements. By 11:24, I’ve fallen behind by 8,000 in Farrell’s count; when it hits a 15,000 vote deficit near midnight, I ask Detective Al Cooper of my security detail, “Please get me Bloomberg on the phone.”
“Well, Mike, congratulations. You’re an Al Kaline, winning the batting crown in your rookie season.” To which the now mayor-elect replies, “What time will you be conceding?” At 12:15 a.m., my family and I take a freight elevator downstairs to a stage full of party leaders and roomful of 800 shocked and deflated supporters, having lost 50 percent to 48 percent, in the closest mayoral election of the past century. “They got it right,” I announce at the podium, “it’s NOT easy being Green!”
From toast of the town to toast.
Back home at 1:45 a.m., Deni makes chocolate chip cookies for me, Jenya, and Jonah, as recorded by Joe’s video. The next morning, among others, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, and Bob Reich all separately call with, in effect, the same story line: I was so depressed when [respectively] I lost for governor/saw my Stuart Smalley movie flop/left the Labor Secretary office… so hang in there!
A year later Jonah sells his film, Off the Record, to the Sundance Channel. “I guess I should thank you for such an exciting race,” he says, tongue firmly in cheek. “It made for a better film.”
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^Two days after the election I call Bloomberg to apologize for an ad my campaign ran on the very last Monday quoting from the affidavit of a female Bloomberg LP employee contending that Mike had urged her to have an abortion. “I overreacted to your deluge of negative ads but I still shouldn’t have gone there.” “Yeah, I don’t know what she was talking about,” he replies.
^A year later the mayor invites me to a friendly lunch. Toward the end he says, “You know, I never would have won if Ferrer didn’t have that fight with you.” My loss was Ferrer’s opening. He runs for mayor in 2005, winning the nomination but losing to Mike by nineteen points.
^In 2002, Isaac Abraham, an orthodox Jewish lawyer and pol who represents the family of Yankel Rosenbaum, slain during the Crown Heights riots, proudly tells me that he was part of a local group distributing the Brooklyn flyer. “Why’d you do that?” I ask in exasperation, knowing now the upshot. “Because we hated Sharpton.”