Koch's Second Mayoral Term Included A Run For Governor That Fell Flat
Ed Koch was riding high after a successful first term as mayor, but when he set his sights on the governor's mansion in 1982, a blunt interview with Playboy magazine suddenly ended his ambitions for Albany. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
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Ed Koch sailed into a second term at City Hall, clinching 75 percent of the vote. He was at the height of his political career. He had tamed the city's out-of-control budget, boosted New Yorkers during a transit strike and lifted the spirit of the city.
At the start of 1982, he seemed poised to have another successful four years, until a few months in, he set his sights on higher office. Koch decided to run for governor, challenging then-Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.
In a 2010 interview, Koch said that move was a big mistake.
"It was just simple. 'Huh, I did so well as mayor, why shouldn't I do this?' It was stupid, childish," Koch said.
At the outset, Koch was far ahead in the polls and Cuomo did not seem like much of a threat. After all, Koch had beaten him three times during the mayor's race in 1977.
But his lead fell apart after Playboy Magazine published a devastating interview with Koch. In it, the mayor mocked life outside the five boroughs, describing upstate New York as a place "where the men wear polyester suits, the women gingham dresses and they all run around in pick-up trucks."
He said the suburbs were sterile and he accused people who lived there of wasting their lives.
"The interview came out and I dropped 40 points," Koch remembered in 2010.
Cuomo beat Koch in the primary and went on to win the general election.
Koch returned, defeated, to City Hall.
But his popularity back home was still intact. In 1983, he became the first New York City mayor to host Saturday Night Live.
Koch published a best-selling memoir, titled "Mayor: An Autobiography," in 1984. The book was later turned into an off-Broadway musical, "Mayor: The Musical," which included the lyric "Being mayor is what I love."
It turned out many New Yorkers loved having Koch as mayor too, at least through the end of his second term, before scandal struck City Hall.