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Two Candidates for NYC Mayor Would Extend Giuliani’s Term

By Dan Janison
NEWSDAY -- NEW YORK

In an unheard-of deal, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Thursday got two of three contenders for his job to agree that if elected they would support letting him stay beyond his legal term.

But the mayor was unable to persuade Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer to accept the so-called “unity” pact. Ferrer, who finished first in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, said Giuliani’s proposed deal would set an unwise precedent.

“I just don’t think it’s right,” Ferrer said on New York 1 cable news Thursday night. “It’s the mayor’s job to deal with whether they’re anticipated or unanticipated ... There can’t be a mayor and a half.”

Giuliani earlier threatened if there was no deal he would try to find a way around the term limits law to run again, which state lawmakers are reluctant, and possibly unauthorized by the law, to allow.

Gov. George Pataki and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno have shown support for postponing Giuliani’s departure. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had not signed on to the deal.

Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long said Giuliani told him Wednesday that if there was no deal on a voluntary continuance, Giuliani would “try to seek a third term.”

Long has said that he’d welcome Giuliani onto the Conservative line despite past friction, and that nominee Terry Gray would step aside. The legality is murky, but Long said, “We are at war and ... we’re willing to support him.”

Earlier, Public Advocate Mark Green issued a statement saying he’d support a measure delaying his inauguration for up to three months for the sake of unity and a seamless transition “given the unprecedented World Trade Center catastrophe.”

Green said he “adamantly opposes repealing term limits” on the eve of the November election.

And Giuliani said the GOP nominee, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, “agreed to it immediately” when he broached the matter in a meeting Wednesday.

But for several hours, suspense surrounded the response of Ferrer, who revealed that he spoke for an hour with Giuliani on Wednesday night and gave Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota his response Thursday.

Ferrer faces an Oct. 11 runoff against Green because he landed shy of the required 40 percent for nomination. He has been the mainstream candidate most critical of Giuliani’s policies throughout the campaign.

Ferrer said Thursday: “I am deeply concerned about the precedent this would set and the implications of this extraordinary step for the long-term interests of our city. For centuries, we have made orderly, constitutional transitions of government -- even in times of crisis.”

Ferrer offered instead to suspend campaigning to attend meetings concerning the crisis and rebuilding, and called for other candidates to do so.