Some people see parallels to the shape of New York State today and the shape of New York City when Rudy ran for mayor. Back in 1993, crime rates were near historic highs, one out of every seven New Yorkers was on welfare and the city had lost 330,000 jobs in the previous four years. Fifty-nine percent of New Yorkers said they’d leave the city if they could and legendary Democratic Senator Pat Moynihan declared that we were “defining deviancy down.” Rudy rejected the idea of inevitable decline, and crime, welfare rolls and unemployment rates all dropped by half. He was not perfect and did not pretend to be. His actions were too aggressive for some. But nobody asks if New York City is ungovernable anymore.
When I asked Rudy whether he’s decided to run for governor, he said he hasn’t decided. I know him: believe it. But polls in New York show an interesting opportunity. The Marist poll’s hypothetical head-to-head match-ups show Rudy defeating Governor Patterson by 56% to 32%, while trailing Attorney General (and son of Mario) Andrew Cuomo. What’s most revealing is a look at the cross-tabs showing Rudy winning the support of 38% of Democrats, 54% of moderates and 56% of Independents, as well as 58% of voters who make less than $50,000 a year. Republicans realize that he might be their last shot in a state that is down to two GOP congressmen from 13 a decade ago. “Rudy Giuliani has proven time and again that he commands the leadership skills to bring order and prosperity out of chaos and dysfunction,” says Michael McCormack, GOP chairman in FDR country, Dutchess County.