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
Local

Supporters say man accused of robbery was misidentified

A Liberian immigrant couple charged with extorting money from an elderly woman in March will be in court Thursday for a bail hearing, but supporters say it's a case of…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

Local

Could this be the end of ICE holds…

Mayor Michael Nutter directed city agencies to stop cooperating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer holds via executive order today.

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

NHL

Top 5 Philadelphia storylines for Flyers-Rangers

The slate is clean for the Flyers and the Rangers. Which is good news for the Flyers.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.