* Spitzer resigned in prostitution scandal
* Dubbed "Sheriff of Wall Street" as NY attorney general
* Spitzer aiming for New York City comptroller job
By Karen Freifeld and Francesca Trianni
NEW YORK, July 8 Former New York Governor Eliot
Spitzer, the one-time "Sheriff of Wall Street" who resigned over
a prostitution scandal, returned to the political limelight on
Monday by launching a campaign for New York City comptroller.
Spitzer, 54, said he wanted to reinvent the position by
taking a more activist role, similar to the financial watchdog
position he carved out in two terms as state attorney general, a
role that spring-boarded him to the governor's mansion.
His term as governor was cut short five years ago when he
resigned after being linked to a prostitution ring.
Spitzer's return to politics sets the stage for a colorful
New York election season. Fellow Democrat and former Congressman
Anthony Weiner, who resigned two years ago after he sent lewd
pictures of himself over Twitter and lied repeatedly about it,
is running for New York City mayor.
"New Yorkers are forgiving, but I knew that. New Yorkers are
good souls, they have a sense of forgiveness," Spitzer said in
his first campaign appearance, where he faced a handful of
hecklers. "Whether that extends to me, that's a whole separate
While both scandals have garnered national headlines, there
are key differences, experts noted.
"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," said Julian Zelizer, a history
professor at Princeton University.
Spitzer was never charged with a crime.
One woman who stopped to hear Spitzer talk said she would
consider voting for him, although she worried that his history
would make it hard for him to run a campaign focused on ideas.
"I don't have a problem with him running," said Lori
Podvesker, 40, who described herself as an advocate for children
with special needs. "But I think that it's a huge distraction
because it takes the focus off of real issues"
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.
Weiner, who announced his candidacy in May, surged in recent
polls to near the front of a pack of candidates, closing in on
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Quinn, who would be the
city's first lesbian and first female mayor, last month
published a memoir in which she recounted her struggles with
bulimia and alcohol abuse.
SHAKES UP QUIET RACE
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who just days
ago appeared to have the comptroller's race locked up, signaled
on Sunday that his campaign was not afraid of using Spitzer's
scandal against him.
Stringer's campaign manager, Sascha Owen, described
Spitzer's campaign as an effort to "buy personal redemption with
his family fortune," according to a statement posted on
Stringer's Twitter account.
Spitzer, whose father is a wealthy real estate developer,
has indicated that he will dip into his personal wealth to fund
Meanwhile, Kristin Davis, a former madam who has claimed to
have provided Spitzer with escorts and who in April launched a
long-shot run for comptroller on the Libertarian ticket,
promises to be a regular reminder of the scandal.
"Eliot Spitzer broke state and federal laws in his use of
prostitutes and paid no penalty. I broke the law and paid my
debt to society," said Davis, who spent four months in jail for
her role in the scandal. "There cannot be two standards of
justice, one for the average citizen and another for the
political and social elite."
Spitzer has denied he had any dealings with Davis.
Spitzer's candidacy was greeted with typical irreverence 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: )
As attorney general, Spitzer accused insurance companies of
bid rigging, sued the former New York Stock Exchange Chief
Executive Richard Grasso over his pay package and went after
investment banks for publishing misleading stock
recommendations, leading to a $1.4 billion settlement with 10 of
The city comptroller manages five pension funds, analyzes
budgets 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.
The current city comptroller, John Liu, as well as former
comptroller Bill Thompson, are both running for mayor.
The deadline to file a petition to be on the Democratic
primary ballot to succeed Liu is Thursday, by which time Spitzer
must collect 3,750 signatures.