Sept. 11 Attacks Changed 2001 Mayor's Race
The attacks of September 11, 2001 not only changed the course of American history, it also profoundly altered the trajectory of local politics, setting off a chain of events that helped propel our current mayor into office. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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Before it became the city’s darkest day, Sept. 11, 2001 was simply an election day.
Primaries for dozens of New York City races were supposed to be held that day. By 11 a.m. the election was called off. Soon, a mayor who’d grown increasingly unpopular in his final months in office became a national hero for his poise and leadership.
Ultimately, that shine would rub off on a longshot candidate for mayor named Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat who turned Republican to avoid a crowded Democratic primary that year, a race ultimately decided in a runoff with Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer losing narrowly to public advocate Mark Green.
Green looked like a shoo-in against Bloomberg, the billionaire political novice.
“Now, more than ever, New York needs the experience that money can’t buy because the mayoralty is not an entry-level position," Green said during his campaign.
But 9/11 changed the political landscape. Economic recovery was paramount, benefitting the businessman Bloomberg.
“Fundamentally, party politics don’t matter," Bloomberg said in an interview on NY1. "We saw that on September 11. We’ve watched for four weeks now as all parties have worked together.”
Then came Rudolph Giuliani's pivotal endorsement.
“I’m very, very confident that the city would be in absolutely excellent hands in the hands of Mike Bloomberg,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani’s support proved a game-changer come election time.
“I changed the person I was going to vote for," said one resident, who, when asked why their vote changed, cited "the leadership that’s been shown by our mayor.”
“I’m feeling warm towards Rudy," said another. "I don’t understand. I’ve never felt that way before.”
Erasing what had been a double-digit deficit in the polls, Bloomberg surged to an improbable two-point victory, ushering in a new era in city politics.