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NY Mayor Race: Giuliani Still Wild Card - 2001-09-26

New Yorkers went to the polls for the second time this month to pick their candidates for the November election to succeed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The first primary election on the day of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was postponed. Everyone is wondering if the current mayor will run again.

Republicans, as expected, overwhelmingly gave their support to business tycoon Michael Bloomberg who is running for public office for the first time.

Democrats were less decisive, dividing their votes among four candidates. Heavy turnout from voters of Hispanic background helped Fernando Ferrer, the president of the borough of the Bronx, edge out Mark Green, the city's public advocate. The two men face a run-off election October 11.

Mr. Ferrer says his experience reviving the Bronx will help him lead New York's recovery from the World Trade Center disaster. "By refusing to give in, by bringing in people and communities, government, business and labor around our common goals we lifted a borough from its knees," he said.

Much of the election campaign will hinge on what Mayor Giuliani decides to do. New Yorkers have twice voted to limit the terms of city officials, including the mayor who is limited to two four-year terms. Mr. Giuliani, a strong proponent of term limits, is at the end of his second term. But Mr. Giuliani, whose time in office was marked by considerable controversy, is riding a huge wave of popularity for his handling of the terrorist crisis and its aftermath. Many New Yorkers believe the mayor should remain in office, at least for a year, to complete the city's recovery.

The mayor avoided any direct comments on the issue until the primary election ended. But now, in an interview with CBS News, the mayor says he is open to the idea of running again if he can legally do so. "I do not know yet the right way or the right thing to do," he said. "I have to really consult and talk to the governor and other people who have to have a voice and a role in figuring out how to do it."

Mr. Bloomberg, who is actually a lifelong Democrat, says Mr. Giuliani has done a terrific job. "He has worked for 14 days almost 24 hours a day worrying about the city," he said. "He has done a masterful job. We have not had any politics. We have just had the leader focusing on how you govern the city which is, I have always argued, exactly what is needed going forward."

Until Mr. Giuliani makes his decision, Mr. Bloomberg says he will follow the Mayor's advice to "get back to work" and continue his campaign for mayor.