RUDY AND THE JETS
Rudolph Giuliani v. David Dinkins, Mayor, New York City, 1993
Willie Horton, David Duke, Jesse Jackson, Adolf Hitler… all of these political figures were prominently mentioned in the 1993 race for mayor of New York City, but not one of them was on the ballot. The most notable feature of this ugly campaign between Democrat David Dinkins and Republican Rudolph Giuliani was the constant accusations by each of them that the other was playing racial politics.
The two men faced each other only four years earlier to decide who would succeed three-term incumbent mayor Ed Koch. That 1989 campaign also descended into racial and religious pandering, with both sides competing to see who could be the most "outraged" and "horrified" at the behavior of their opponent.
Its no secret that New York City politics is tough, just as it is in most major cities, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Boston. NYC is an interesting case, however, because although it is a heavily Democratic city (Democrats outnumber Republicans about 5:1), black voters make up less than a third of registered voters. And although white voters are less than half the population of the city, they make up more than half of its registered voters.1 Dinkins's victory over Giuliani in 1989 was very close—one of the closest in the city's history—making the rematch between the two an automatically competitive and compelling race.
The swing vote in NYC, at least in the 1990s, was often a coalition of white liberals—overwhelmingly Democrat—and Hispanic voters. Dinkins won these voters in high enough numbers in 1989 to give him the edge over