New York Ex-Governor Spitzer Seeks Political Redemption In New Run

by
Reuters
Eliot Spitzer, who was nicknamed "The Sheriff of Wall Street" because of his aggressive stance toward the financial industry before he resigned as New York governor five years ago in a prostitution scandal, is ready to return to politics.

New York Ex-Governor Spitzer Seeks Political Redemption In New Run

Eliot Spitzer, who was nicknamed "The Sheriff of Wall Street" because of his aggressive stance toward the financial industry before he resigned as New York governor five years ago in a prostitution scandal, is ready to return to politics.

Spitzer, a 54-year-old Democrat, has set his eye on a less prestigious job - New York City comptroller, a post akin to chief financial officer. He said he wanted to reinvent the position by taking a more activist role, similar to his transformation of the state attorney generalship.

He used that office as a springboard for a successful 2006 run for governor. But his time in Albany was cut short after he was identified as a client of a prostitution ring, a revelation that prompted him to step down from office in 2008.

In launching a new bid for office, Spitzer is betting that New York City voters are ready to forgive sexual indiscretions.

His run will not be the only such test this year. Former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner, who resigned two years ago after admitting that he had sent lewd pictures of himself over Twitter and lied repeatedly about doing so, is running for mayor of New York.

Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University history professor who specializes in politics, said there was a difference between the two scandals.

"Weiner's scandal involved sending a picture, while Spitzer's was breaking the law, all from the guy who was supposed to uphold the law," he said. "We'll see if the public sees the difference."

Weiner, who announced his candidacy in May, quickly rose in recent polls to near the front of a pack of candidates.

"Combined with Anthony Weiner, Spitzer gives the Democrats an image problem," said Kenneth Sherill, professor of political science at Hunter College in New York. "While either one of them might have saved himself, we might see the spectacle of two drowning men pulling one another down."

Spitzer's candidacy was greeted with typical irreverence and wit in the New York tabloids. "Here we ho again," declared the New York Post on its front page. "Lust for power," said the New York Daily News headline. (Related column: )

Still, voters elsewhere in the United States have signaled a willingness to give second chances. Earlier this year, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who had resigned after trying to cover up a visit to a mistress in Argentina, was elected to Congress.

'UNDERSTANDS MARKETS'

Spitzer, who became a television commentator after leaving public office, decided to run during the July 4 holiday weekend, he said.

"This is the dream: to be able to assume office on behalf of the public once again," he said.

The city comptroller manages five pension funds, does budget analyses and audits city agencies. Spitzer said he hoped the financial community wants someone "who understands markets" in the comptroller's office, which he aims to revitalize in the way he did the attorney general's office a decade ago.

Current comptroller John Liu is running for mayor.

The deadline to file a petition to be on the Sept. 10 primary ballot to succeed Liu is Thursday, by which time Spitzer must collect 3,750 signatures.

If he gets on the ballot, Spitzer is expected to face Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in a Democratic primary.

Other candidates for comptroller include Republican John Burnett, a Wall Street executive, and former madam Kristin Davis.