But Green's support in minority communities is not to be underestimated. "Mark has built up a lot of credibility in the black community over the years by working hard for it, and as a result he has a legacy of relationships," says Dennis Walcott, head of the New York Urban League.
Now, however, Green has to carefully walk the racial tightrope. He must solidify his base of Jews, Manhattanites, and blacks while going after outer-borough Catholics (i.e., Giuliani Democrats), without alienating his minority support. He cannot risk, for example, making Al Sharpton an issue. But given Sharpton's prominence in Ferrer's campaign and the job he's done to attract black support, it is reasonable to ask what role Sharpton will play in a Ferrer administration. Someone other than Green will have to bring it up. Ferrer, too, has stolen Green's thunder about the democratic process by standing up to Rudy. It's riveting political theater to see how it will play.
Green, on the other hand, will have to stick to the safer road and emphasize his broad-based support. "I endorsed Mark Green because the city really needs somebody who has currency with all of New York's ethnic, racial, and political constituencies," says the Reverend Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
"After everything we've been through, we need somebody who says, 'Look, we're all in this mess together.' The African-American community sees Mark as someone who tries to be fair to all people. Black people like Freddy, too, but I don't think anybody should characterize this race in terms of one ethnic group against another. And that's the way his campaign has characterized it."
It's significant that Ferrer's support among white voters was in the single digits. He now has to make some very quick adjustments if he has any hope of winning the runoff. Green, on the other hand, can continue the strategy he has employed throughout the campaign, with certain adjustments for the new realities.
"We've had success until now by focusing on my record and my vision for the city, not by being divisive or negative," Green says. "I'm focused on attacking problems, not rivals."
Under the direction of campaign manager Richard Schrader and media consultant Hank Sheinkopf, Green has finally become a candidate who understands not only how to run but how to win. Recognizing the mistakes of past campaigns, he has become a disciplined candidate who has largely stayed on message.
"I've made very few mistakes in a campaign where I'm on a high wire in a hurricane, in a tabloid-driven city called New York," he says. "I think people have realized watching Bloomberg that doing this well is much harder than it looks."
Green's campaign was designed to protect and preserve the early advantage he established rather than risk revealing too much of himself. Before the Trade Center attack, he had slipped into a kind of prevent defense. For months, he and his staff were content to have him do the grunt work of campaigning quietly -- the meet-and-greets at subway stops; the appearances at town meetings, schools, churches, and synagogues -- and to issue an occasional position paper. The objective was to solidify his base of traditional Democrats but not to make news or to directly engage his opponents.
Of course, after the World Trade Center disaster, experience and leadership are much more important. Green will undoubtedly attempt to show he's not only ready to lead but will surround himself with talented, experienced people who can walk in and go to work without a training period. He'll do this by making more appearances with former police commissioner Bill Bratton and Jerry Hauer, a world-class terrorism expert who established the city's Office of Emergency Management under Mayor Giuliani in 1996.
"The next mayor will have to do exactly what Rudy's done," says Bratton. "He'll have to exude confidence, be a cheerleader when necessary, bring everyone together, and appear to be everywhere all at the same time. The stamina, the physical demands alone are extraordinary. It's an eighteen-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week job. And for that six hours when he's home, I'd say there probably haven't been that many nights over the past seven and a half years when he hasn't been interrupted several times for an update on something."
It is hard to imagine anyone being as steadfast, both physically and emotionally, as the mayor has been. "Sometimes he comes in at midnight, sometimes after 2 a.m.," says Howard Koeppel, Giuliani's friend and the man whose apartment he has been staying in since he moved out of Gracie Mansion several months ago. "He was never someone who needed a lot of sleep. He gets up, he makes his own bed, and he comes to breakfast full of pep. He's really got a great attitude. He never complains. He's happy to be alive and he's happy he's feeling well. He always has a nice smile at breakfast, and then he gives me a big hug and a kiss and off he goes."
Before September 11, there were, broadly, two salient questions about Green. Is he an unreconstructed, unapologetic liberal? Or has he moved to the center and become a Clinton Democrat? Though this is still a relevant subject for debate, it seems, at least on first blush, less important now than leadership qualities. Or, as the question was phrased pre-terrorist attack, does Green have the kind of outsize personality that seems to be necessary to run New York effectively?