DETROIT – His supporters want him back, but Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick ( search) is in serious jeopardy of being the first mayor of Detroit in 44 years not to win a second term.
"I think there were a lot of people out there who were upset with me for one reason or another," said Kilpatrick, who four years ago became the nation's youngest big city mayor
The city's financial woes have worsened along with its longstanding joblessness and high crime rates and the mayor's administration has been tainted by scandal. It has dogged Kilpatrick throughout this campaign.
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"Newly released records show the mayor hit taxpayers for another $140,000 for fancy meals, football and concert tickets, even a tuxedo rental for his cousin," said an ad paid for by former Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix ( search), who has launched an aggressive campaign in his bid to unseat Kilpatrick.
Like the mayor, Hendrix is also a Democrat. But he says that's where the similarities end.
"Our politics are different. Our ages are different. Our support bases are very different," Hendrix said.
Early in the race, Hendrix capitalized on support from the dependable vote of senior citizens. In one poll, he has surged to a lead of nearly 20 points.
But recent polls show Kilpatrick narrowing the gap. One poll suggests the race is within the margin of error.
"I think what the mayor has been able to do since June is focus on the record, why they elected him in the first place," said Steve Mitchell of Mitchell Research and Communications ( search).
Kilpatrick says what this nearly bankrupt city needs is a young mayor with a vision to modernize Detroit.
"I don't even think my opponent can see that far, or understands those things," he said.
Hendrix said he too has several qualities needed to be mayor.
"I understand how to balance budgets. I am the person in this race who's balanced eight straight budgets. He's the person who's had straight deficit-ridden budgets," he said.
The race has become so contentious that Michigan's secretary of state is expected to be in Detroit on Tuesday for Election Day, along with a staff of monitors. Concerns have been raised about potential voting irregularities stemming from alleged discrepancies with absentee ballots.
Detroit's Election Supervisor Jackie Currie ( search) who's up for re-election herself, was fined by a judge in September for defying the judge's order to stop sending out unsolicited absentee ballots.
The controversy unfolding is just as the mayor's race tightens.
"We need to make sure at all costs this election is not tainted," Hendrix said.
Kilpatrick said if the vote is fair, he will win. The winner gets to balance a $300 million deficit and a city with the dubious distinction of being the nation's most impoverished.
Click in the video box above to watch a report by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.