Josh Nathan Kazis Writes: Koch, who hasn’t held public office since 1989, reasserted himself as the go-to arbiter of a candidate’s pro-Israel bona fides last fall. His cross-party endorsement was widely credited with helping Republican Bob Turner win a surprise victory in a special congressional election in a heavily Jewish New York district.
But Koch isn’t satisfied helping win a few races in New York’s outer boroughs. This year, the mayor plans to fly south to win Florida’s Jews, and maybe Florida itself (and perhaps, if the electoral math turns out right, a second term) for President Obama.
Obama may see in Koch a surefire backstop against Republican claims that he is insufficiently pro-Israel. But Koch isn’t great at staying on message. When barnstorming Florida for Carter in 1980, Koch said the then-president “should rot in hell” if he broke commitments he’d made on Middle East policy. In an election with no margin for error, the mayor could be a liability.
“He’s got a proven record of lighting off Roman candles and carrying dynamite wherever he goes,” said one Florida Democratic political consultant, who asked not to be named. “That’s kind of what makes him interesting.”