Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer announced Sunday that he is joining the race for New York City comptroller, and asked for forgiveness from the electorate for his role in a prostitution scandal five years ago.
Spitzer, also a former attorney general, said he decided to run again for elected office after being regularly encouraged by constituents to re-enter politics despite resigning in 2008 after reports surfaced that he had frequented a prostitution ring. The Democrat said he hopes to expand the role of comptroller beyond that of regulating city spending to one that monitors the effectiveness of various other government policies.
The surprise announcement of Spitzer's re-entry into the political arena is just the latest twist for the Big Apple. Fellow New Yorker Anthony Weiner resigned as congressman after admitting to sending inappropriate Tweets, but is now running for mayor.
Chris Cillizza of the Fix said that despite his transgressions, Spitzer clearly has the ability to win the race. He said the fact that the former governor is a “political creature,” as well as his sizeable personal wealth, will make him a force in the campaign:
Spitzer's ability to self-fund coupled with his name identification (not all of it good, of course) and his likely message — no one owns me — could make for a powerful combination in a city that has already made clear (as Weiner's rising poll numbers suggest) that it believes in political second chances.
But U.S. News' Susan Milligan said Spitzer can't expect to achieve the success of Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., who won a special election after resigning from his post as governor following an extramarital affair, or Weiner, who is leading the mayoral race according to one poll, because his sexual offenses were different:
The difference is that Spitzer broke the law. And what aggravates the situation is that Spitzer broke the law when he was holding the job of state attorney general, the highest-ranking law enforcement position in the state. He even prosecuted prostitution rings. The infraction involves sex, but the crime here isn't sex. It's paying for it, which is against the law.
Spitzer must collect at least 3,750 signatures from Democrats by Thursday in order to appear on the primary ballot in September. He challenges Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who was almost guaranteed the party's nomination before Spitzer's surprise entrance into the race.
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