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....I lived in Koch's legislative district in the early 1970s — before he became mayor — and I remember going to work, needing to get down into the subway, and he'd be there at the top of the stairs wanting to shake hands. Want to ride the subway? You'll have to get past Ed Koch. It seemed so small-time, such a corny, unlikely way to get somewhere in politics.
The 3 defeats were: "a forgettable 1962 State Assembly race; a memorable 1982 primary in a race for governor won by Mario M. Cuomo; and a last Koch hurrah, a Democratic primary in 1989 won by David N. Dinkins, who would be his one-term successor."
Black leaders were... unhappy with Mr. Koch’s decision to purge antipoverty programs and comments he made that they considered insensitive. He said, for example, that busing and racial quotas had done more to divide the races than to achieve integration, and that Jews would be “crazy” to vote for the Rev. Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential campaign after Mr. Jackson’s 1984 reference to New York as “Hymietown” and his call for a Palestinian homeland in Israel....
[I]n August 1989, a black youth, Yusuf K. Hawkins, 16, who went to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to see a used car, was attacked by a group of white youths and shot dead.
Mr. Dinkins, pledging to bring the city together again in a “gorgeous mosaic,” narrowly defeated Mr. Koch in the primary and went on to beat Mr. Giuliani, who ran on the Republican and Liberal lines, by a slender margin in the general election.
“I was defeated because of longevity, not because Yusuf Hawkins was murdered six weeks before the election, although that was a factor,” Mr. Koch wrote.... “People get tired of you. So they decided to throw me out. And so help me God, as the numbers were coming in, I said to myself, ‘I’m free at last.’ ”