Green is a frequent (if infrequently victorious) Democratic candidate for local political office. He's now the president of liberal radio network Air America. His brother is real estate honcho Stephen Green.
Long Island native Green started in politics in the 1970s as one of Ralph Nader's "Raiders," a group of public interest lawyers who became a thorn in the side of government and big business. After an unsuccessful run for the House in 1980, Green founded a think tank called the New Democracy Project a year later, then went to work as a speechwriter for Senator Gary Hart during the 1984 Democratic primary. Green ran for office again in 1986 when he lost a quixotic bid for Senate against incumbent Republican Al D'Amato. After David Dinkins was elected mayor, Green became the city's first consumer affairs commissioner in 1990. Three years later, he won the job of the city's public advocate, becoming popular by tackling a variety of consumer and good-governance issues and sparring with Mayor Giuliani over racial profiling. Recent years have seen Green embark on a series of less successful political campaigns: He lost the Democratic Senate primary to Chuck Schumer in 1998, the mayoralty to Bloomberg in 2001, and the attorney general primary to Andrew Cuomo in 2006.
Green was the favorite for most of the 2001 mayoral campaign—New York magazine was still calling his victory "foregone" as late as early September—but a succession of blunders and misfortunes cost him the election. The biggest came in the closing days of the closely contested primary against Fernando Ferrer, when Green's campaign distributed flyers containing a New York Post cartoon of Ferrer and Al Sharpton that many deemed racist. Despite the consensus that Green had played no role in approving the flyers, the scandal cost him support in the African-American and Latino communities. He managed to alienate his base even further in the days following Sept. 11th, when he agreed to support longtime nemesis Giuliani's bid to extend his term by three months. Green's apparent move to capitalize on Giuliani's popularity backfired, and Bloomberg defeated him to claim an upset victory.
Green's brother is real estate developer Stephen Green, who has financed all Mark's big electoral campaigns, connected him with other wealthy donors, and allowed him to use his office buildings for his campaign headquarters. In April 2007, Steve once again spent millions to land his brother a job, purchasing the floundering Air America radio network for $4.25 million and installing Mark as president. Though Steve sold Air America to Vermont businessman Charlie Kireker's Pendulum Media in 2008 and relinquished his role as chairman, Mark remains the still-struggling station's president.
Green has a reputation as an arrogant and abrasive personality, so it was no surprise that during his stint as public advocate he frequently clashed with the equally monomaniacal Giuliani. The enmity between the two men runs so deep that when Giuliani considered leaving office to run for the Senate in 2000, he moved to change the city charter to prevent Green from succeeding him if he resigned. The longtime grudge made Green's 2001 decision to support the mayor's term extension even more perplexing.
He's the author of numerous books on politics, most recently the 2006 effort Losing Our Democracy: How Bush, the Far Right and Big Business Are Betraying America for Power and Profit. Of course, Green certainly does know a thing or two about losing.
In 1977, Green married Deni Frand, a former exec for the liberal group People for the American Way. The two met at a political fundraiser during the 1976 Democratic Convention in New York. They have two 20-something children, Jenya and Jonah. The Greens live on East 90th Street; they bought a home in East Hampton in 2002 for $1.2 million.