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Bloomberg campaigns to the end

Ferrer tries to energize his base

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Democratic challenger spent their final campaign hours in a last-minute push for turnout today, as yet another poll showed the Republican incumbent crushing the underdog.

Fernando Ferrer tried to energize his base and chip away at the mayor's predicted lead by scheduling campaign appearances with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. And Bloomberg didn't want to take any chances that his supporters might stay home and assume he had victory in the bag.

A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday showed Bloomberg has a 38-point lead over Ferrer. Previous polls have said Bloomberg has about a 30-point lead.

Both candidates were out greeting commuters as the sun was rising -- Ferrer hit a subway stop and Bloomberg rode the ferry from Staten Island. The mayor then began a whirlwind tour of senior centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, where he pleaded for support and turnout at the polls.

''Let's not take anything for granted," he told seniors at a center near Chinatown, where his speech was translated into Chinese. ''We've got to vote, we've got to keep working." He later visited Bronx supporters at their homes.

The mayor's campaign has set up a hot line and shuttle service to transport elderly and disabled voters to polling places. The shuttle service is just one part of his campaign's relentless get-out-the-vote machine, which has reached millions of people by knocking on doors and writing letters.

Relying on public matching funds, Ferrer has spent about an eighth of what the billionaire mayor has funneled toward winning a second term. The Democrat has fewer staffers, a smaller volunteer operation, and has been depending on labor unions to help get troops on the ground.

Bloomberg was scheduled to campaign long into the night, stopping off to go bowling in Staten Island, then ending with an event at the top of the Empire State Building.

Ferrer campaigned with Obama -- a rising star in the Democratic Party -- yesterday afternoon in Manhattan, greeting New Yorkers in Chelsea.

Earlier in Brooklyn, Sharpton joined Ferrer as the two made a push during lunchtime to rally voters and lift the Democrats' dimming campaign.

In other contests nationwide, a pair of big-spending, notably nasty races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey entered their final hours yesterday.

In New Jersey, Democratic US Senator Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester spent the day stumping for votes after a week dominated by allegations of infidelity and corruption. A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday gave Corzine a slight edge, 53 percent to 45 percent. The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll put the two closer, with Corzine leading 43 percent to 37 percent.

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