Giuliani Gears Up For Mayoral Race (12/12/96)
Giuliani Wins With Ease
Republican mayor scores big in a Democratic city
By Justin Oppmann/AllPolitics
WASHINGTON (Nov. 4) -- New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who carved out a reputation as an energetic, can-do leader, won re-election today by a wide margin over Democrat Ruth Messinger.
The tough-talking mayor of the heavily Democratic city was favored all along to defeat the Manhattan borough president, making Giuliani the first Republican New York City mayor since 1941 to win a second term. He ran an aggressive campaign, even though he enjoyed a wide lead in the polls and, in his victory speech, thanked New Yorkers for re-electing him "to a job that I love."
Low on campaign funds, Messinger trailed in the polls by as much as 20 points against an opponent endorsed by most of the city's newspapers. In the final weeks of the campaign, it was not a question whether Messinger would lose but by how much.
"Tonight," said Messinger in her concession speech, "we lost a battle but the war goes on ... Our schools still don't work ... and they are still worth fighting for. We gave it everything we had."
Giuliani spent the 48 hours before Election Day in a nearly nonstop tour of the city on the back of a flat-bed truck, while Messinger took the subway and the ferry in a last-ditch quest for votes.
Recent charges that Giuliani was mean and over-zealous did little to hurt his popularity, whose foundation rested on his strong and successful stance against crime. Concern about police brutality failed to tarnish an administration credited with bringing safety and economic recovery to a city once known as a symbol of urban decay.
Since Giuliani narrowly defeated David Dinkins in 1993, the quality of life in the city has blossomed. Tourism is up, and much of the seediness, filth and violence that once characterized New York have retreated.
Giuliani achieved this urban renaissance while lowering taxes, cutting 60,000 city employees from the payroll, taking a firm stand on welfare reform, and working to end Mafia control of industries like garbage collection and wholesale food sales.
Although Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-1 in the city, Messinger trailed in the polls and even had trouble wresting the nomination from her Democratic primary challenger, Rev. Al Sharpton. A member of the city's liberal establishment, Messinger unsuccessfully tried to focus the race on education and job creation.
Whether charging that the city's improved economy only benefited a small portion of New York or blasting Giuliani for cutting spending on public schools, Messinger was unable to shift the focus of the election. President Bill Clinton campaigned for Messinger over the final weekend but with little success.
While critics charged that his campaign failed to present new ideas for his second term, Giuliani seemed content to run on his record. During the first debate, Giuliani warned that New York's safety could slip under Messinger. "We're doing better now, we're making progress. The one real fear that I have is that this city could slip back," he said.
Despite the prospect of a landslide election, Giuliani never seemed to relax. During a Columbus Day parade, Giuliani chided Messinger, who is Jewish, for not attending a pre-parade Mass. He later apologized for the remark.
Other problems that threatened to plague Giuliani included rumors of his failing marriage to television and movie personality Donna Hanover and allegations of an affair with his communications director, Cristyne Lategano.
Giuliani will not be able to run for another term, thanks to term limits. Speculation is rife that he may run for the Senate when Daniel Patrick Moynihan's seat is up in 2000.
Other mayor's races
In another East Cost mayor's race, Boston's Thomas Menino also won re-election. He had only write-in opposition.
In the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota it was a night for the incumbents. Mayors Sharon Sayles Benton and Norm Coleman were both re-elected. Benton is a Democrat; Coleman switched to the Republican party last year.
Incumbent Democrat Tom Murphy is the winner over Republican Harry Frost in the Pittsburgh mayoral race. Frost, who was plagued by financial problems, was not expected to unseat Murphy. Pittsburgh's last Republican mayor was in 1936.
There will be run-off elections in Miami and Houston, because no candidate in either city captured a majority of the vote. Houston hopefuls Lee Brown and Rob Mosbacher will advance to a run-off in early December, while Miami incumbent Joe Carollo and ex-mayor Xavier Suarez will battle Nov. 13.
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell narrowly failed to win an outright majority against longtime rival Marvin Arrington. The two will meet in a runoff Nov. 25.
In Seattle, port commissioner Paul Schell defeated councilman Charlie Chong.
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Tuesday Nov. 4, 1997
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