Out of the Ashes

Rudy Tries to Ride Rubble to Reelection

He said he hadn't had "time to think about" his own possible candidacy—one barred by a law he supported and passed in two public referendums—and that "as soon as I have time," he would talk to the people he trusts and make up his mind. He added that it "would make no sense to write my name in," reminding everyone that "the last time I checked" he wasn't a Democrat, suggesting that his no-write-in advice especially applied to the Democratic primary.

The comments were designed to position him for a possible run. A low turnout would enable him to do precisely what he did in 1997, when few Democrats voted in the mayoral primary between Ruth Messinger, Sal Albanese, and Reverend Al Sharpton. He said then that voters rejected them all "by just not showing up," adding that the reason "for the remarkably low turnout" was "the lack of a message of any of these candidates" about "the future of the city." He will not need to change a word to interpret a passive electorate as one still pining for him (no one noticed later in 1997 when he was reelected with the lowest total vote in a two-candidate mayoral race since 1925).

By discouraging write-ins, he averted any loss of momentum if he didn't actually get many. By particularly ridiculing Democratic write-ins, he helped his ally Vallone, who he may still hope will aid him on term limits, while simultaneously adding to the intended deflation of the total vote. If he winds up getting a lot of write-ins despite discouraging them, it will pump up his tabloid draft. So would beating Michael Bloomberg or preventing him from gaining 40 percent in the GOP primary.

Giuliani had to be reminded by Vallone that there was an election on Tuesday.
photo: Jennifer Altman
Giuliani had to be reminded by Vallone that there was an election on Tuesday.

In the end, Rudy may walk away from the opportunity he seems to be going out of his way now to create, just as he left the race against Hillary, implausibly citing prostate cancer as the only explanation. He has become so much the center of attention that more cameras initially gathered around him at Ground Zero last week than around the president of the United States. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that "W." selected Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge for the Homeland Security post because "unlike Rudy Giuliani, Ridge is likely to be a solid team player who will not outshine or overshadow Bush." Rudy has apparently come to believe that the burst of flames that engulfed the towers and changed the nation also shone a spotlight on him.

Research assistance: Gregory Bensinger, Lisa Schneider, Lisa Williams, Catherine Worth

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