Media mogul Michael Bloomberg won the Republican primary in the New York's mayor's race today, securing a spot in the November general election against an as-yet unknown Democrat.
The Democratic race, as many expected, appeared headed to a runoff election between city Public Advocate Mark Green and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.
Bloomberg, who has spent $20 million so far in his first bid for elective office, handily defeated former Congressman Herman Badillo.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani this week encouraged people to vote in today's primaries, while deflecting questions about his own political future amid pressure for him to find a way to circumvent a term limits law and stay on the job.
"People decide on their own whether they want to vote or they don't want to vote," Giuliani told reporters Monday at a televised news conference. "If they want to vote, then they should choose between and among the candidates that are there on the different lines."
Though a current term limits law would force Giuliani to leave office on Dec. 31, when his second term ends, his strongest supporters and top aides have been pushing him to stay on the job to help the city recover. He had been prepared to leave office quietly — but that was before a terrorist suicide mission destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and forever altered the city skyline.
Since then, even Giuliani's political rivals have praised his response to the crisis. But while leaving the door open to entering the race at some point, Giuliani did nothing to suggest he plans to make a move.
"It is true that I have a future," Giuliani said. "I don't know what it is yet and, therefore, I don't have an announcement about it."
Speaking Monday night on The Late Show With David Letterman, Giuliani said he's got other things on his mind at the moment.
"About two days ago I said, 'I'm going to sit down and think about it,' and the minute I do, I realized this morning that we weren't going to enough funerals," Giuliani said. "Up until now, as mayor, I've been to every single funeral of … the uniformed people of New York City."
May Not Be Possible
The speculation may all be moot. A senior state elections official told ABCNEWS the only way Giuliani could appear on the general election ballot in November would be to win any party's nomination in today's primaries, receiving a plurality of the write-in votes and surviving a runoff.
Over the course of last week, aides to Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki — once bitter political rivals — were working behind the scenes to explore whether the city council or state Legislature would repeal the term limits law. Democrats, who control the state Assembly and City Council, were not interested.
On Friday, Pataki tried to quiet speculation the state would act to let Giuliani stay on, though he hinted voters could write-in the mayor's name. A spokesperson later said Pataki wanted the election to proceed without interference.
A Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll found 91 percent of New York City residents think Giuliani is doing an excellent or good job handling the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
But when the same poll asked New York voters whether term limits should be repealed to let Giuliani seek re-election, only 33 percent answered "yes."