Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Robert Singer

Subject Categories

Political History | Social History


1989 Mayoral Election, 1993 Mayoral Election, Yusef Hawkins, Crown Heights Riots, Staten Island Secession, Central Park Jogger


On Tuesday November 2, 1993, New Yorkers went to the polls to vote in the mayoral election between the incumbent Democratic candidate, David Dinkins, and the Republican-Liberal Party candidate, Rudolph Giuliani. As with most local New York elections, several additional candidates were on the ballot. Jimmy McMillan, known now as the “Rent is Too Damn High” candidate, made his first bid for public office that year. The clear frontrunners, Giuliani and Dinkins, would finish just percentage points apart, with Giuliani garnering 50.9% of the popular vote and Dinkins only 48%. This was a near mirror image of the previous election in 1989, when

Giuliani lost to Dinkins with only 47.84% to Dinkins’ 50.42% of the vote.[1] The election not only ousted New York’s first, and thus far only, black mayor from office after just a single term, but also solidified a conservative, urban social movement in a city that had traditionally been overwhelmingly liberal.

This movement’s roots could be found as early as William Buckley’s unsuccessful run for mayor in 1965 in the wake of the 1964 Harlem riots. It gained traction during the teachers strike in Ocean Hill-Brownsville in 1968 and the city’s fiscal crisis of 1975, when Mayor

Abraham Beame was forced to decimate social welfare and city services in order to stave off citywide bankruptcy. It was not until 1993, though, that the movement was vindicated with a major electoral victory.

Amidst the election of Mayor Giuliani, the city experienced a turbulent, anxious era in its social and political history. The late-1980s and early-1990s were marked by retrenchment, conflict, and polarization, often demonstrated in violence and confrontation, as David Dinkins’ “beautiful mosaic” nearly shattered. Under these circumstances, and riding a rising national sentiment of conservatism and a fierce local debate about the city’s “quality of life,” Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, seemingly of a New York that was by then long lost, became the city’s first Republican mayor in a generation.

[1] Our Campaigns: New York City Mayoral Election, 1993.