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`Big Apple' Mayoral Race Heats Up

Democrat Dinkins and Republican Giuliani agree to televised debate as election draws near. POLITICS: NEW YORK CITY

By Lucia MouatStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / November 3, 1989


WITH only a few more days to go before the Nov. 7 election, New York City's mayoral candidates are reaching for every vote they can get. In the process, each is turning up the heat on the other. It is a particularly important election for New Yorkers, and the turnout is expected to be a high 60 percent of the city's registered voters. If City Hall is awarded to Democratic frontrunner David Dinkins, New Yorkers will have their first black mayor. If Republican-Liberal candidate Rudolph Giuliani wins, he will be the first Republican to hold the office in the more than two decades since John Lindsay was elected. Either way the city, in which Mayor Ed Koch is out of the running and finishing his third term, will embark on a new course with a new leader.

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With less than a week to go before the election, the two candidates have agreed to face each other in at least two televised appearances.

The appearances, one of which is billed as a debate, were announced this week and include a third, lesser-known candidate - Right-to-Life candidate Henry Hewes - whose participation Mr. Dinkins had insisted upon.

While the candidates were negotiating on other possible joint appearances, a poll of registered voters published in New York Newsday yesterday showed Dinkins leading Mr. Giuliani by 11 points - 49 to 38 percent.

Another poll showed Dinkins favored by 47 to 34 percent. The survey was released by Barry Feinstein, Teamsters Local 237 president and a strong Dinkins backer.

Among Democratic voters in the primary, Dinkins won most of the black vote, half the Hispanic vote, and 30 percent of the white vote.

He often says he believes in the basic fairness of New York City's voters. However, he is not widely supported by many who voted for Mayor Koch in the primary, and he has recently lost some support among Jewish voters. His friendship with Jesse Jackson, who once referred to New York City as ``Hymietown,'' may be a factor. So perhaps, too, was the acknowledged mistake by Dinkins' campaign manager Bill Lynch in hiring Sonny Carson to help get out the primary vote in Brooklyn housing projects. He was hired before campaign staffers fully realized that Mr. Carson had been convicted of kidnapping and had made a number of anti-white and anti-Semitic remarks.

Dinkins' standing has also been hurt by recent disclosures about his financial dealings, which include the transfer sale of stock to his son at a price far less than the company chief estimated the stock was worth a few years earlier.

That incident also triggered revived interest in Dinkins's failure to pay income taxes over a four-year period 20 years ago. He later paid in full, including penalties. ``It was an issue of procrastination,'' says Dinkins press secretary David Fishlow. ``It was illegal, wrong, and stupid. David doesn't try to excuse it.''

Both candidates are stumping hard in these last days of the campaign for every vote they can get. Dinkins made a half dozen stops in various Jewish neighborhoods on one recent day. Press conferences in which local rabbis announced their support for one candidate or the other have been an almost daily occurrence.

Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one in New York City.