Henican: Hey, Mike, regarding third terms, ask Ed and Mario about how that went
Thirds terms are tough.
Ask Ed Koch. Ask Mario Cuomo.
Both men were riding two-term waves of public appreciation — Koch at City Hall, Cuomo in Albany — when they asked themselves, “Why stop now?” The polls were with them. The jobs were fun. And truly, they’d both learned some things about governing New York.
There are many theories for why their third terms stunk.
Koch’s exhausting exuberance. The governor’s brooding soul. Tougher economies and harsher race relations.
But I’ve always been convinced it was more elemental than that: They’d just hung around too long. People got sick of looking at them.
No one can say for certain how four more years might turn out for Mike Bloomberg. He’s been an undeniable success for eight. He certainly appears likely to win on Tuesday.
So what does history say?
History says that in the 1985 mayor race, Koch got a whopping 78 percent of the vote against Carol Bellamy and Diane McGrath, and things went immediately downhill from there. He picked petty fights with Jesse Jackson, got dragged into the gay-bathhouse disputes, refused to let the 1987 Super Bowl Giants parade in Manhattan (“If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie”) and had his popularity shaken by Donald Manes’ suicide. He had a small stroke and even then couldn’t stop himself, getting beaten by David Dinkins in 1989.
“How’m I doin’?” Koch was fond of asking.
“Oh, shut up,” the people eventually replied.
Cuomo’s third term wasn’t any more fun.
No longer was he the governor of soaring oratory and moral strength.
It’s hard to remember what his actual third-term accomplishments were. Those were the years Cuomo perfected his “Hamlet on the Hudson” routine.
Would he run for president in 1992? Would he like to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court? Third-term Cuomo could never quite decide.
And when George Pataki ran against him in 1994, the 12-year governor was easily caricatured as an out-of-touch, bummed-out liberal.
Mike Bloomberg, take notice: After a third term like that one, Cuomo lost, of course.
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