Eliot Spitzer has joined the posse of male politicians who believe that voters, at this point, should be totally over their Id-driven past escapades and elect them back into public office. On Sunday, the New York Times effectively launched Spitzer's campaign for city comptroller with a mid-sized piece on the former governor's last minute bid for public office.
And this campaign looks like it's really, really, last minute: Spitzer has until Thursday (as in, just a few days from now) to get at least 3,750 Democratic signatures to qualify for the primary ballot in September. He'll, as he told the Times, "be on the street corners... out across the city" with the help of 100 signature gatherers.
Spitzer was a highly effective Attorney General in the state before a brief tenure as governor, until he was given another title: Client 9 of a prostitution service in 2008. Oh, and weirdly, a former madam connected to the Spitzer scandal is apparently running against him on the Libertarian ticket:
Happy birthday to me! What a great present - a chance to confront Eliot Spitzer in the debate! Davis for comptroller!!!— Kristin Davis (@manhattanmadam) July 8, 2013
So, you're asking, why would Spitzer run for comptroller, a relatively obscure office with a function that's not easily explained? Ben Smith at Buzzfeed makes a pretty convincing case that Spitzer might not have a clear reason at all, beyond an impulse to get back into public office. Here's what Spitzer told 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.
Adding that the comptroller's office has "enormous untapped potential...It's not just audits to see whether the paper clips got delivered on time." According to the Times story, Spitzer's pitch for comptroller is essentially a redefinition of the office itself — instead of accounting for city spending, he wants to "conduct regular inquiries into the effectiveness of government policies," which sounds a bit like what Spitzer did as Attorney General.
Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president who was until today the "shoo-in" for the office, released the following statement from his campaign manager Sascha Owen late on Sunday in response to the news (via the Times):
Scott Stringer has a proven record of results and integrity and entered this race to help New York’s middle class regain its footing. By contrast, Eliot Spitzer is going to spurn the campaign finance program to try and buy personal redemption with his family fortune. The voters will decide.