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Ed Koch’s ‘Last Word’

Posted on Feb 1, 2013
Screenshot via The New York Times

Former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch, who has been referred to as “the quintessential New Yorker,” died of congestive heart failure early Friday morning at a Manhattan hospital. He was 88.

The New York Times:

His political odyssey took him from independent-minded liberal to pragmatic conservative, from street-corner hustings with a little band of reform Democrats in Greenwich Village to the pinnacle of power as the city’s 105th mayor from Jan. 1, 1978, to Dec. 31, 1989. Along the way, he put an end to the career of the Tammany boss Carmine G. De Sapio and served two years as a councilman and nine more in Congress representing, with distinction, the East Side of Manhattan.

With his trademark — “How’m I doin’?” — Mr. Koch stood at subway entrances on countless mornings wringing the hands and votes of constituents, who elected him 21 times in 26 years, with only three defeats: a forgettable 1962 state Assembly race; a memorable 1982 primary in a race for governor won by Mario Cuomo; and a last Koch hurrah, a Democratic primary in 1989 won by David Dinkins, who would be his one-term successor.

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After Koch’s death, The New York Times released a candid interview conducted in 2007 that was “not meant to be made public” until he died. In the interview, the three-term mayor discussed his life, his political career and how he hoped to be remembered.

Among the topics Koch talked about was the ugly 1977 mayoral campaign between himself and Mario Cuomo. Koch, who ultimately won the race, said he had never forgiven his political rival for posters featuring the slogan, “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo,” which were put up all along Queens Boulevard.

In fact, 30 years after the fact Koch still had some pretty harsh words for Cuomo. “Even though social relationships when we meet in public are good, underneath, he knows that I know what I’m thinking—‘you prick,’ ” Koch told The New York Times. 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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