Koch Wins by Landslide in N.Y. Mayoral Primary; Young Scores Victory in Detroit

Times Staff Writer

Edward I. Koch, bidding for a third term as mayor of New York, scored a landslide victory in the city’s Democratic primary Tuesday, while in Detroit, Mayor Coleman A. Young easily defeated a dozen opponents in the city’s nonpartisan primary as he sought his fourth term.

The results put both Democratic incumbents in commanding positions for reelection. Winners of New York’s Democratic primary are traditionally heavy favorites in the general election because Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 5 to 1 in the city. The top two finishers compete in November’s general election in Detroit.

With 99% of the precincts reporting, Koch had 428,837 votes, or 64%, contrasted with 126,443, or 19%, for City Council President Carol Bellamy; 89,005, or 13%, for Manhattan state Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. and 4% divided among three other candidates.

Press Conference

At an 11 p.m. news conference at the Sheraton Center Hotel, Koch, 61, took note of his lopsided vote margin with a tongue-in-cheek victory announcement: “Let me say at the onset, I don’t know whether it’s safe to claim victory, but I will take the chance.”

He told his audience of well-wishers: “I believe the reason I won is that I perceived myself as an extension of the citizens of this town, elected to do what they would do--exercise common sense.”


Koch promised that he would restore city services to the levels enjoyed before the fiscal crisis of the 1970s brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

Within moments after the polls closed at 9 p.m., New York television stations declared Koch the easy winner. A WNBC-TV survey of 3,437 voters as they left polling places showed Koch dominating the electorate. He was the favorite of three-quarters of white voters, two-thirds of Latino voters and 39% of black voters. He was also the heavy favorite among Jews and Catholics, the survey reported.

A similar survey by the New York Daily News and WABC-TV predicted Koch would win 70% of the vote.

Koch was the favorite from the beginning of his campaign. He amassed contributions of $5.6 million, contrasted with Bellamy’s $800,000. He was careful not to be drawn into a series of debates that could have strengthened his opponents and enhanced their fund-raising abilities. And, with few exceptions, Koch muted his normally combative campaign personality.

So confident was Koch as his campaign drew to a close that he would ask crowds of people to raise their right hands as he administered an oath. “I solemnly pledge that on Sept. 10, I shall rush to the polls and vote for Ed Koch for mayor,” he would ask the crowd to repeat. The ritual would conclude with the mayor smiling and emphasizing each of the final words: “So help me God.”

So unconfident in the final days of the primary was Bellamy that she slashed in half a $100,000 expenditure for television time. Her aides said she did not want to run up big debts.

Bellamy to Run in November

Koch will face Bellamy again in the November election. She is the candidate of New York’s small and fragmented Liberal Party. He also will be opposed by Republican Diane McGrath, a commissioner of the New York State Crime Victims Board.

Bellamy, 43, charged that Koch has ignored the problems of New York’s subways and schools and that he is beholden to real estate interests.

Farrell was the candidate of a coalition of black leaders who argued that Koch had polarized the city along racial lines and had raised tensions.

In reply, Koch argued that his Administration had restored New York City’s spirit and its fiscal stability. During his terms in office, New York has repaid $1.2 billion in loan guarantees that Congress voted during the city’s fiscal crisis.

In Detroit, Young benefited from a highly fragmented field in the primary, from endorsements from civic and business leaders, and from widespread support from blacks, who make up 63% of the city’s population.

Before the primary, Young’s strongest challenger appeared to be Thomas Barrow, 36, the nephew of legendary heavyweight boxer Joe Louis and the owner of a Detroit accounting firm. Barrow charged that Young put too much emphasis on downtown development and ignored neighborhoods in other parts of the city facing serious problems of crime and neglect.

With 63% of the vote counted, Young had 49,324 votes, or 61.3%, to 24,161, or 30.7%, for Barrow. The two will oppose each other in the Nov. 5 general election.

Researcher Siobhan Flynn contributed to this story.