NEW YORK (AP) _ Public Advocate Mark Green emerged as the Democratic nominee for New York mayor, defeating Fernando Ferrer in a runoff overshadowed by terrorist attacks and speculation about incumbent Rudolph Giuliani staying in office.
Green will face billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg next month in the general election as they attempt to guide New York City through a daunting recovery process following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Green and Bloomberg are vying for a seat that Giuliani, a two-term Republican whose popularity has soared for his leadership after the attacks, must give up because of term limits.
``I'll give you a mayor who came back in this campaign and wants to lead a New York comeback,'' said Green, who came in second in the primary but had enough votes to advance to the runoff.
Green received 52 percent of the vote Thursday, compared with 48 percent for Ferrer, the Bronx Borough president who was attempting to become New York City's first Hispanic mayor. With all precincts reporting, Green had 417,329 votes to Ferrer's 387,523, an especially light turnout.
Polls show Green with a comfortable lead over Bloomberg in the heavily Democratic city. But the media mogul has been freely spending his own millions in his first ever run for office.
Green drew the battle line Thursday against Bloomberg's hefty war chest.
``Message beats money,'' Green said. ``People need more than what money can buy.''
Bloomberg, a longtime Democrat who changed parties last year, has said that his entrepreneurial experience building a company from the ground up makes him well suited to handle New York's current crisis. Bloomberg, the founder and chief executive of Bloomberg LP, has also tried to follow Giuliani's record of reducing crime in the city.
But Green has already begun suggesting that it would be dangerous to elect a political novice to run the city during a time of such crisis.
Ferrer, 51, drew together an energetic coalition of black and Latino supporters as well as endorsements from some the city's largest unions.
But in the runoff, he failed to pick up enough of the white moderate voters who had supported defeated primary opponents Alan Hevesi and Peter Vallone.
``Losing is never easy,'' he said in conceding.
``But on Sept. 11 something happened here in the city of New York that very quickly put the concept of loss in perspective. As important as elections are, there are things far more important, like friends and family.''
Ferrer and Green were the top vote-getters in the five-way Sept. 25 primary but neither had received the necessary 40 percent to avoid a runoff. That primary had been pushed back two weeks after the terrorist attack on the trade center brought voting to a stop on Sept. 11.
The terrorist attacks shifted the focus of the low-key mayoral campaign from a debate about education and affordable housing to questions over who had the strength to lead the city through an unparalleled crisis of rebuilding and economic recovery and jitters about security.
The sharp-tongued Green has been a frequent critic of Giuliani since being elected public advocate in 1993 on issues such as education and police brutality. He adopted a statesmanlike stance in recent weeks even agreeing to Giuliani's suggestion that his term be extended for three months to allow for a smoother transition.