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Similarly, when Bloomberg snared 25 percent of the black vote and 47 percent of Hispanics in 2001, the general-election turnout in some minority districts was actually lower than in the primary or runoff, an unheard-of indication of how disaffected voters were by Green's alleged leaflet race-baiting. The chances of Bloomberg finding a way to either deflate minority turnout to 2001 levels or win similar percentages of it are at least as slim as Ferrer's chances of getting near Green's 38 percent of the white vote.
While the pollsters and media are depicting this election as a yawn, here are the historical numbers that guide Ferrer's hopes:
The Bloomberg model for victory, though no one will acknowledge it, is Giuliani 1997. Bloomberg is trying, on at least two levels, to morph Ferrer into Messinger. Ferrer's early endorsement of a stock-transfer tax gave the mayor the ammunition he needed to depict Ferrer as an ideologue with no grasp of what makes the New York economic engine purr, just as Giuliani did with Messinger.
As well as this has worked so far, Ferrer's willingness to face up to the reality that the city will have to identify new revenue sources to pry loose from Albany additional billions in court-mandated state aid is appreciated by many with real stakes in our schools.
Bloomberg tried last week to do much the same with Ferrer's affordable housing plan, taking shots at the side effects of its financing. But, as right as Bloomberg may be about Ferrer's vacant-property tax hike on the $400 rebates, he is nibbling at the edges. Ferrer's 167,000-unit, $8.5 billion program is still almost three times Bloomberg's otherwise solid program and, with 30 to 50 percent affordable apartments, Freddy is now reaching out to every living-space-starved New Yorker in a way that resonates. By November, unless the mayor steps forward with a plan to make the school-aid billions doable, Ferrer may capture the education high ground even though Mike Bloomberg has done more to change schools than any mayor in modern times.
But if Bloomberg is failing in his attempt to stereotype Ferrer as a free-taxing lefty, he is succeeding at the much more subtle game of compromising Big Dems. He's got the largest municipal union, DC 37, to endorse him, just as Giuliani did in 1997; he has at least temporarily neutralized the other big unionsDennis Rivera's hospital workers and Randi Weingarten's teachers, with powerful Election Day field and phone operationslike Giuliani did. Chuck Schumer and Comptroller Bill Thompson refuse to utter a single critical word about him, as Schumer and Thompson's predecessor Hevesi did when Rudy was seeking re-election.