The view of Ed Koch in Upstate NY
Ed Koch, who died Friday in New York City, had an impact on New York politics that spanned decades. YNN's Bill Carey says Koch's relationship with Upstate New York was friendly, although, at times, strained.
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NEW YORK -- If you lived west of the Hudson River, Ed Koch was that television character - the feisty New York mayor who said and did outrageous things. He was entertaining.
So, when Hugh Carey was ready to step aside and Democrats looked for someone to blunt a big money campaign by Republican Lew Lehrman, it made perfect sense for Democrats to turn to Koch. He was certainly better known than that other guy, the Lt. Governor. But things changed quickly, once Upstaters began paying closer attention.
In May of 1982, Democrats convened at Onondaga County's civic center to hold their convention. It was then that things started going downhill for Ed Koch.
Koch won the designation, but a stirring speech by Mario Cuomo - a preview of the performance that would catapult him to national status two years later - had some delegates wondering if they'd chosen the wrong guy.
It would be a lively campaign. Cuomo's 24-year-old son, Andrew, helped steer his father's effort.
“They were both extraordinary talents. Different styles. Different personalities. Different people. But, they were really just beautiful to watch and they were both at the high point of their profession,” said Gov. Cuomo.
While Mario Cuomo continued to stir voters, Koch was Koch. A Playboy interview helped move Upstate voters away. He had told his questioner that rural life was a joke.
Living in Albany? Koch said that was a fate worse than death. He would later say he regretted saying what he said.
“I did. I did. Wasn't I stupid? Stupid,” said Koch.
After losing the primary, Koch returned to New York City and left the Upstate consciousness for decades, until 2010 when he roared back, heading a campaign to bring transparency to state budgeting and non-partisanship to the redrawing of district lines.
“Whether it's going to make any difference, I don't think so, because I think the process is always going to be controlled by people in political office, no matter how you frame it. But, on the other hand, no one else got as far as he got on it,” said Sen. John DeFrancisco, (R) State Senate, Syracuse.
Local candidates swarmed to Koch's side, making pledges that, in the end, Koch probably knew would not be kept. But, then again, he had warned them.
“We're going to be in their districts yelling, liar, liar, pants on fire,” said Koch.
It had a familiar ring. It was Ed Koch playing Ed Koch.