Move over, Anthony Weiner! The New York City ballot this fall will have to make room for not just one disgraced ex-pol running for redemption on the taxpayers’ dime. Joining the King of the Selfies on the ballot will be former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was forced to resign after his patronage of high-priced prostitutes became public knowledge. Spitzer wants taxpayers in the Big Apple to trust him with their money:
That Spitzer is running for office again isn’t terribly surprising. He clearly regretted his decision to resign as Empire State governor in March 2008 amid revelations that he had taken part in a high-priced prostitution ring. And as soon as 2009, Spitzer made clear he wanted to return to politics.
Political creatures — and Spitzer is one through and through — find a way back into politics. The question for Spitzer, as it was for fellow disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, was when — not if — he would run again. And now Spitzer and Weiner, who is running for mayor, will appear on the same primary ballot this fall. (Before you make too many “Spitzer = Weiner” observations, read this piece by Ben Smith on how the two men are nothing alike.)
The real question as it relates to Spitzer is whether he can win. The answer, according to interviews with a handful of New York City political consultant types, is quite clearly “yes.”
“He wants back into public life and this is the first real opportunity,” explained Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant based in New York. “He can win because he has a name, dough, and looks like the expert in a financial position.”
With Mr. Spitzer’s name recognition and three million Democrats in the city, this should not be a difficult task, but he plans to flood the streets and supermarkets with some 100 signature gatherers starting on Monday.
“I am going to be on the street corners,” he said. “We will be out across the city.”
Say, wasn’t that what got Spitzer in trouble the first time?
And as if the election hadn’t turned into a big enough joke, Spitzer’s going to face a tough competitor:
In a twist of irony, Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam” who admits she supplied Spitzer with escorts, is running as the libertarian candidate for the office Spitzer announced Sunday night he’s running for.
“Kristin Davis vs Eliot Spitzer for NYC comptroller!” Roger Stone, her political consultant, tweeted Sunday night in celebration of Spitzer’s announcement.
With Stone’s help, Davis — convicted in 2008 of promoting prostitution sent to prison for four months — has enjoyed publicly taunting Spitzer. She ran for governor of New York in 2010, for example, and previously threatened to run against Spitzer in 2009 if he ran for state comptroller.
Davis announced this spring that she’d run for the city’s comptroller position. According to her website, she is running on a platform of “legalization, regulation and taxation” of marijuana in the city. “We sell regulate and tax tobacco and alcohol, both more damaging to public health than pot.”
If it’s possible to take any of this seriously, here’s a question for New York City voters. Do you see elections as a way to make rational choices about public-sector leadership, or a platform for self-centered politicians to demand absolution for their past transgressions? If it’s the latter, then this ballot is perfectly crafted for the occasion. If it’s the former, voters in the city should make it clear that public service is about the public and not the bruised egos of those who broke trust when voters offered it to them earlier.