Back in June, I pointed out the importance of Ed Koch in Democratic presidential politics, making the case that when Koch deserts the Democratic presidential candidate, it often spells bad news for the Democrats. Koch tortured Carter in 1980, particularly over Carter’s stance on Israel, and he backed Bush over Kerry in 2004, largely because of Bush’s strong positions on national security issues, including Israel and the War on Terror.
Shortly afterwards, Koch urged Jewish Democrats to vote for Bob Turner in the special election in heavily Democratic NY-9 to send a message to Obama regarding Israel. The New York Times sniffed that Koch’s efforts were “the least helpful contribution to this race,” but Koch turned out to be on to something. He not only smelled a winner in Turner, but he also helped put Turner over the top. As Newsmax put it, Koch was “arguably the one single factor in helping the GOP win the battle to succeed disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner in the U.S. House.” Tablet’s Marc Tracy observed that, “Age has not dimmed Hizzoner’s savvy” when it comes to politics.
With respect to 2012, Koch has said he will not back Obama in 2012, and his continued involvement should send a loud warning Obama to watch his base, even in unexpected places. Robert Costa’s good piece today notes that one of the lessons of the race is that Republicans should not ignore New York in 2012. He’s right. With Ed Koch’s help, as we have just seen, stranger things have happened.