It might only be July 7, but it sure feels like Christmas to NYC political watchers—or anyone who wants to re-live one of the most stunning downfalls in New York political history (well, before this one)—because former Governor Eliot Spitzer has announced he's running for NYC Comptroller. At this time, we'd like to remind everyone what the escort service booker said of Spitzer: He "would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe - you know - I mean that ... very basic things."
Spitzer told the NY Times tonight,"I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it." According to the Times, "Spitzer, a Democrat, said he was eager to plunge back into politics and believed he could revolutionize the often-overlooked city office into a new model for government accountability and shareholder activism." Here's a tagline, on us: "The only thing I like to nail more than prostitutes is corrupt government officials!"
Yes, Spitzer left office in early 2008 (who was only sworn in as governor in January 2007) after being connected to an international prostitution ring, whose escorts cost from $1,000 to $7,000 an hour. Notably, an investigation found that Spitzer—referred to as Client No. 9— had booked a 22-year-old prostitute, Jersey girl Ashley Dupre, in Washington D.C.
If he can collect 3,750 signatures by Thursday for his petition, Spitzer will be matched against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a well-liked former state lawmaker who is running unopposed so far. Spitzer will also be riding his credentials as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" from his days as NY Attorney General. Spitzer claims to the Times that a woman came up to him recently:
“I appreciate what you did when you were in office,” he said she told him. “Nobody is perfect; I hope you run again.”
Mr. Spitzer added: “It happens all the time. People who walk with me on the street say, ‘People really do want you to get back in.’"
Spitzer also spoke to the Daily News, "I love public service. I believe in it and hope I will be given a second chance.... After being out of office for five years, thinking deeply, reflecting on what I was able to do when I was in government…I'm going to try and seek the controller’s office and ask to the public to consider me." He also said his family supported his decision but "refused to discuss reports that he is living apart from his wife, Silda."
Buzzfeed's Ben Smith warns against comparing Spitzer to Weiner:
But Spitzer has basically nothing in common with Weiner, aside from their low body fat, and shared (and lightly observed) Jewish faith. Weiner is a talented politician who left Congress with no major legislative accomplishments and everything to prove. Spitzer was a major force in American public life for eight years despite having no particular talent for politics. Weiner’s online romances brought him down because they were weird. Spitzer’s ordinary sin — any number of politicians have survived prostitution scandals — ended his tenure as governor because his governorship was already going terribly.
The question about Weiner is whether, as Mayor, he will be able to turn his talent for communications into leadership, something he’s never done — but the sort of thing that can happen when you’re mayor, as it did to Ed Koch.
The question for Spitzer is whose head he will take off first.
Politico's Maggie Haberman points out:
What may help Spitzer, if he is able to get on the ballot, is the fact that down-ballot races in the city tend to be won largely on name recognition. Stringer is far from the household name that Spitzer is, and voters don’t view the job as important as mayor.
What’s more, while Weiner’s crotch-picture scandal has a creepy factor, Spitzer’s involved the world’s oldest profession, and he did not exacerbate the personal damage by clinging to his office. And unlike Weiner, Spitzer has a long list of accomplishments in office to point to.
Is it crazy to have a write-in campaign for former NJ Governor James McGreevey to run for Public Advocate? Sure he lives in NJ, but don't we need a scandal trifecta?