New York votes for new mayor

New Yorkers were today choosing a replacement for acclaimed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Millionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg, Mr Giuliani's preferred Republican candidate, was neck and neck with Democrat rival Mark Green as the polls opened.

Whoever is elected will face the daunting task of overseeing the rebuilding of lower Manhattan at a time when the city is sliding into its worst financial crisis for decades.

The winner will also struggle to shake off the shadow of Mr Giuliani who has won unprecedented popularity since the September 11 terror attacks.

Dubbed Rudy the Rock for his determined response to the greatest crisis in the city's history, Mr Giuliani would win a landslide victory if election rules did not bar him from standing for a third term.

He has even been awarded an honorary knighthood in recognition of his help to families of the British dead.

In the aftermath of the atrocities Mr Giuliani considered trying to stand again, and also attempted to extend his current term for 90 days, but eventually decided to retire on schedule following criticism from Democrats.

He has since campaigned for fellow Republican Mr Bloomberg, backing him as a "leader, not a politician" in an emotive advert where he also tells viewers it has been his "honour" to be their mayor for eight years.

The advert was one of many from Mr Bloomberg, who spent more money on television campaigning than any other mayoral candidate in US history.

Another commercial mocked Mr Green's comments that he could have handled the World Trade Centre attacks better than Mr Giuliani, by asking simply "really?"

But Mr Green hit back, publicising Mr Bloomberg's pre-September 11 comments that being a sanitation worker is probably a more dangerous job than being a police officer or firefighter.

The Democrat has also highlighted his rivals lack of political experience. Mr Bloomberg, who is himself a former Democrat, made his millions from a financial information service and has never

held public office.

As well as taking on the job of rebuilding New York, the new mayor will inherit Mr Giuliani's zero-tolerance strategies which have led to a dramatic fall in crime, but also faced criticism from liberals.

But despite its importance, the mayoral race has not captured the city's attention, overshadowed by the September 11 atrocities, the anthrax attacks and even the New York Yankees dramatic defeat in the World Series baseball championships on Sunday night.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now