Serving up scandal: Can voters stomach Weiner and Spitzer in the same election?

Eliot Spitzer greeted voters in Union Square on Monday, after announcing his candidacy for City Comptroller late Sunday night. Credit: Bess Adler
Eliot Spitzer greeted voters in Union Square on Monday, after announcing his candidacy for City Comptroller late Sunday night. Credit: Bess Adler

As the dust settles in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s 11th-hour announcement joining the race for City Comptroller, a larger question hangs over the city’s local politics sphere: can voters stomach the return of not just one but two disgraced politicians in the same election year?

Eliot Spitzer, who held the governorship for just a little over a year before being outed in March 2008 for soliciting prostitutes, threw his hat in the ring late Sunday night, echoing Anthony Weiner’s late-night announcement just a few weeks ago when he launched his campaign for mayor.

Christina Greer, an Associate Professor in the Political Science department at Fordham University came up with three ways this could play out: Spitzer could pull Weiner down, Weiner could elevate Spitzer, or voters could manage to evaluate the two separately.

“It’s a question of whether or not New Yorkers have the mental space to digest both Spitzer and Weiner at the same time,” Greer said.

But Greer noted it may help that they are running for different positions: “We don’t look for the same thing in a mayor and a comptroller,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t know what a comptroller is,” she added.

Spitzer’s announcement yanked the rug out from under Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer who, until Spitzer’s Sunday night bombshell was coasting into the Comptroller’s office unopposed.

“We know that Eliot Spitzer isn’t going to just dip his toe back into the political waters without actually assessing his realistic chances,” Greer said. ”

Mickey Carroll, a Quinnipiac University pollster, said he anticipates Spitzer taking much the same tack that Weiner has thus far.

“My guess is he’s going to run a very wonkish campaign,” Carroll said. “Like ‘yes, this was a bad thing, I misbehaved and I regret it, now let’s talk about the real issues.’”

“You’ll get more numbers and so forth from Spitzer than you can shake a stick at,” Carroll added.

But Greer said that might not be a sustainable approach.

“That’s going to work for the first two days of the story, but at a certain time he’s going to have to formally address it, whether it’s in a sit-down interview with a particular journalist or something else,” Greer said. She said the constant repetition that it’s up to the voters to decide whether they deserve forgiveness is not going to be enough.

“Yeah the voters will decide, yes, thank you for telling me something I don’t know,” she said. “At some point they’ll have to face it head-on.”

Carroll dismissed Stringer’s initial attack on Spitzer, calling him out on funding his campaign with his own money.

“They’re all doing that these days,” he said, noting that Spitzer is facing a significant challenge, as he will need to pay a lot of petition gatherers between now and Thursday to get himself on the ballot at all.

Michael Tobman, a New York-based political consultant who is not working with any of these candidates, agreed that Spitzer’s money source likely won’t be a problem for voters.

“New York City voters have shown their comfort with wealthy candidates funding their own campaigns,” Tobman said.

 

Vito Lopez: outlier or more of the same?

Vito Lopez is another scandal-scarred politician running for city office: the former Assemblyman, recently forced to step down after a scathing 68-page report detailed sexual harassment allegations from former female staffers, is now running for City Council in Brooklyn.

Tobman said Lopez could not be assessed on the same terms as Weiner and Spitzer in part because his scandal was based in Albany, where scandal and reports of corruption and bribery have been bubbling up for months on end.

“Albany is a matter of culture and lax enforcement and oversight,” Tobman said.

Tobman added that Lopez’s fight is different as well, as he has a strong support base in his Bushwick district.

“Bushwick is a complicated part of a complicated borough,” Tobman said. “Vito is well-regarded in some circles there and he has a very big, forceful personality.”

“So we’ll have to see what the voters say,” Tobman added.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

Movies

Dakota Fanning's indie growing pains on 'Very Good…

Dakota Fanning on her latest "Very Good Girls."

Entertainment

Britney Spears launches new lingerie line and fans…

Women everywhere can say that they are not that innocent when Britney Spears launches her new lingerie and loungewear line. “Every woman should feel confident…

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

NFL

3 storylines to watch as Jets open training…

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…

Style

Jennifer Oz LeRoy tell us how to lunch…

Jennifer Oz LeRoy tells us what to pack for a day in the surf and sand.