So Ken Livingstone has fought his last election. What now for the defeated 66-year-old newt-fancier?
Even though he almost pulled off a shock victory over Boris Johnson this time, Mr Livingstone has ruled out having another crack at getting his old job back at London's City Hall.
Many Labour MPs on the Blairite wing of the party were critical of the leadership for allowing him to stand again as Labour candidate, as he did in 2004 and 2008.
He became the party's candidate on the day before Ed Miliband was elected leader in September 2010. So Mr Miliband was virtually powerless to dump him.
There are claims - denied by his campaign chief Tessa Jowell on Sky News as the votes were being counted - that Mr Livingstone blackmailed the party by threatening to stand as an independent if he was not chosen.
Remember, he was an independent when he won in 2000, defeating Labour's Frank Dobson and humiliating Tony Blair.
Could a different candidate have done better this time and defeated Mr Johnson, repeating the success of Labour candidates in local governments across the country, and in Scotland and Wales?
Possibly, although there wasn't exactly a queue of well-qualified or popular Labour MPs who wanted to stand for mayor.
The dynamic of London's Mayoral election has always been a case of personality over politics, more than on the national stage.
A few months ago, Labour MPs were predicting a bloody inquest after these elections, with knives out for Mr Miliband. That probably won't happen now, because of the good results the party has had in the UK as a whole.
A Livingstone win would have been a huge morale boost for Labour and allowed Mr Miliband to claim he's on the way to a General Election victory.
He can't say that now and these results, while good, are not as good as Mr Blair achieved as leader of the opposition in the mid-1990s before the Labour landslide of 1997.
Despite the close result in London, there will inevitably be those ready to write Mr Livingstone's political obituary now.
He has been one of Britain's most famous and controversial politicians for more than 30 years. As left-wing leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) he annoyed Margaret Thatcher so much that she abolished the GLC.
He became MP for Brent East, but failed to shine in Parliament, largely because he was shunned and loathed by most of his fellow Labour MPs, with the exception of close friends and fellow left-wingers like Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
Despite claiming he wouldn't challenge the official Labour candidate as an independent, he did just that and then won a second time after being re-admitted to the party.
His legacy to Londoners is the congestion charge, which he introduced in the face of opposition from the Blair government, and his bendy buses have been taken off the road by his Tory successor.
Mr Johnson's most visible legacy is the "Boris bikes" now seen all over the capital, which Mr Livingstone claims were his idea!
For the Tories, Mr Johnson has come to the rescue of David Cameron after the Conservatives got a thumping from Labour in town halls outside the capital.
But while Mr Cameron will be relieved that the Conservatives at last have a victory to cheer, there will be fears in the Tory high command that Boris is now a serious rival for the party leadership. George Osborne, in particular, will be worried.
It's already being claimed that Mr Johnson plans to stand as an MP in the 2015 General Election, overlapping the last year of his four-year term at City Hall.
That news will delight his supporters, of whom there are a growing number among Conservative MPs.
So as well as being relieved, Mr Cameron will also be wary. He knows that the Tory party needs Mr Johnson.
But he will be concerned that some of his MPs believe the party needs Mr Johnson - and not Mr Cameron - as its leader.