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

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.