NEW YORK (AP) Democrats were favored to capture Republican-held governorships today in Virginia and New Jersey, while the nasty race to succeed the popular Rudolph Giuliani as mayor of disaster-scarred New York was a virtual dead heat.

Paul Wong
New York city mayoral candidate Mark Green, right, listens to former President Bill Clinton during a campaign rally yesterday.<br><br>AP PHOTO

Dozens of other cities including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami and Seattle also choose mayors in the off-year elections, but no race matched New York”s for big spending and big stakes.

Democrat Mark Green, the city”s elected public advocate, and Republican Michael Bloomberg, the media mogul who spent more than $40 million of his own money, each insisted he was better qualified to lead the city”s recovery from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. Each accused the other of mudslinging and racially divisive tactics.

Green held a big lead in the polls until Bloomberg finally gained Giuliani”s endorsement last week. Bloomberg saturated the New York airwaves with a commercial showing Giuliani enthusiastically endorsing him as the man to lead the city through its crisis.

Bloomberg also ran an ad that quotes Green as saying he could have handled the World Trade Center tragedy as well as or better than Giuliani. Then the commercial asks, “Really?”

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