NEW YORK, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Less than two weeks ago, Democratic candidate for mayor, Mark Green, led his Republican opponent, Michael Bloomberg, by 16 percentage points. However, that lead evaporated after incumbent Mayor Rudolph Giuliani endorsed his fellow-Republican and the race is considered too close to call for Tuesday's Election Day.
"I think that this is one election where one candidate is superior to the other," Giuliani, a Republican, said in a commercial for Bloomberg, indicating that the billionaire media owner, was his heir apparent. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Giuliani has had a tremendous outpouring of support and his approval rating are in the 90s. He is restricted from running for a third term because of voter-imposed term limits.
Hamden-Conn.-based Quinnipiac University released a poll Monday that indicated Bloomberg and Green were in a dead heat -- each favored by 42 percent, however, an unusually high 15 percent were still undecided less than 24 hours before Election Day.
Giuliani had spared with Green, New York City's Public Advocate for years and delayed endorsing Bloomberg until Oct. 27 but since then the continuous television commercials have helped turned the tide for the Republican candidate. The mayor campaigned with Bloomberg as did Sen. John McCain, a Republican form Arizona, Gov. George Pataki and even former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, who described Green as "annoying."
Green has the support of most unions including the police and firefighter unions as well as the hospital workers, Local 1199 Service Employees International Union, which plans to have 3,000 volunteers assisting in getting out the vote on Election Day.
As the polls tightened up, a barrage of negative ads covered New York City to gain an advantage for each candidate. Green cited Bloomberg's past membership in all-white clubs and a 1997 sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former member of his staff. Bloomberg denied the charges and said he settled the case for an undisclosed sum because it would drag out for years.
Meanwhile, Green who had been accused by his Democratic primary opponent of racially divisive tactics was accused of not giving a Hispanic employee at the Public Advocate's office a raise because "It's not clear the Latino community is where we need to make out greatest investment." Green said he overruled his staff and gave the employee the raise.
Bloomberg is self-financing the campaign and expects to spend about $50 million -- the second most expensive campaign for any office other than the presidency.
Green is receiving public matching funds so he is restricted in his spending estimated at $15 million.
The party that wins the mayoral race will gain a huge advantage for next year's governor's race. A win for Bloomberg in New York City where there are five Democrats to every Republican would be a tremendous advantage for the expected re-election bid of Pataki as would a Democratic victory have on a Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall.
Statewide, voters will decide on gender-neutral language being included in the New York State Constitution. The proposal would change 170 references from he to he/she, him to him/her and terms such as fireman and assemblyman to firefighter and assembly member.
Some argue the changes are meaningless because while the lieutenant governor is referred to in the constitution, as a "he" Lt. Gov. Mary Donahue is a woman. However, others argue the 21st century is time to install gender neutral terms and allow both sexes be recognized in the state constitution. The constitutional amendment has been approved by two terms of the state Legislature and only needs the voter's approval to have the document changed. The cost of the changes to the state would be $1,600 for the printing changes for the 5,000 copies required by law to be made in 2002.
Polls open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.