Now it's Spitzer's turn for a 'second act'
There's always a second act in American politics. And that goes double for New York city.
Anthoiny Weiner whose obscene twitter photos cost him his seat in Congress is actually leading the race for New York city mayor. Now, former governor Elliot Spitzer, who spent tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes while governor, is throwing his hat into the ring for city comptroller.
In a telephone interview on Sunday night, Mr. Spitzer, 54, sounding restless after an unwelcome hiatus from government, said he had re-envisioned the often-overlooked office and yearned to resurrect the kind of aggressive role he played as New York State's attorney general. He said that after consulting with his family and taking the temperature of the city's electorate, he believed New Yorkers would be open to his candidacy. "I'm hopeful there will be forgiveness, I am asking for it," he said.
His re-emergence comes in an era when politicians -- like Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina and the New York mayoral contender Anthony D. Weiner -- have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and that voters seem receptive to those who seek forgiveness and redemption.
His decision startled the city's political establishment, which is already unsettled by the rapid rise of Mr. Weiner, who also plunged into a campaign without party elders' blessing.
Mr. Spitzer batted away a question about whether the reception enjoyed by Mr. Weiner, who is running neck and neck with the front-runner Christine C. Quinn, factored into his decision, but said he was approached regularly by New Yorkers who say they would support him if he ran for office again.
"It happens all the time," he said. "People who walk with me on the street say, 'People really do want you to get back in.' "
He plans on forgoing public financing and use his own money for the race. This means it will no doubt become a very expensive campaign for a job that Spitzer says he plans to transform"
Mr. Spitzer, who built a national reputation as a zealous watchdog of Wall Street while attorney general, imagines transforming the comptroller's office into a robust agency that would not merely monitor and account for city spending, as it does now, but also conduct regular inquiries into the effectiveness of government policies in areas like high school graduation rates.
Such a reading of the office, which would significantly expand its scope, could put Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat, into conflict with the city's next mayor, much as his tenure as attorney general put him at odds with federal regulators of Wall Street.
Spitzer was mentioned as a presidential candidate for 2008 prior to the scandal. Could he emerge as a rival to Hillary Clinton if he is successful? Comptroller of New York city is not the best platform from which to launch a presidential bid but Spitzer has star power beyond any political office, having popped up frequently on cable news and been a regular on Current TV. Liberal activists know him and might offer him as a leftist alternative to Clinton.
At the very least, his entrance makes New York politics that much more interesting.