Redemption is something many politicians would like—especially if they leave office or are booted out. While there is usually some degree of cynicism when it comes to trusting an elected official, there is an element of trusting that official to do what would be in your and the targeted entity’s best interest. People are drawn to certain politician because they like what they hear being promised…or at least some of it, anyway. No one says “Ehhh, he’ll do,” or “He’s not perfect, but he’s all we got,” it’s typically, “I like the cut of his jib,” and “I like what she’s saying,”
The last few weeks saw two New York Democrats attempt to get their beaks wet in the politics game again as former congressman Anthony Weiner and former Governor Eliot L. Spitzer put in their bids for two very different positions. Weiner is going for the high position of NYC mayor while Spitzer is shooting a bit lower as NYC comptroller. It could be seen as a way for Spitzer to build his way back up and build trust with the citizens.
Of his bid for comptroller, Spitzer sees it as a respectable position to aspire for. “There’s substantial authority here that I think can be used in exciting ways,” He went on to state, “I have looked voters in the eye, walked on the street, and I think people are willing to give me a shot, and I think it is based on the record I built when I was attorney general, when I was governor, when I was assistant district attorney, a prosecutor of organized crime.”
Spitzer’s legal career is what garnered him trust as he battled polluters, gun manufactures, and some of the worst of employers who thought minimum wage was too much all while in the Attorney General seat. In 2006 he clenched the governorship and was seen as a possible presidential candidate. Two years later, Eliot Spitzer’s private life was caught on federal surveillance as patron to a prostitution service. Two days after the scandal broke, Spitzer left office. In the following five years, Spitzer appeared on TV as a columnist and pundit and even got a few television programs.
Anthony Weiner’s odyssey in politics was vaguely similar. While he wasn’t on the state stage that Spitzer was, he did have a presence in New York politics and severed some 12 years in Congress. He didn’t leave the footprint Spitzer and really only represented a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens. Then in 2011 he left office due to a scandal that involved sexting and lewd pictures. In the following years, he worked as a consultant. Now he is looking towards the mayoral position in the city.
Mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn—who has proven to be rather popular as of late—raised the question: why do they deserve another shot? “The question with both Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer is, what have they done to earn this second chance? I don’t think we see all that much from either of these men that would put them in a position where they would have earned a second chance — redeemed themselves from their selfish behavior and earned a second chance by New York’s voters.”
Spitzer’s main competition to the position held by Comptroller John Lui—who is running for mayor—is Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. The Borough President stated that Spitzer is trying to buy forgiveness from the people of New York City. Spitzer waved the accusation off stating that he Stringer would be using tax payer money for his campaign while he’ll be using his own. New York City has a “campaign finance program” which finances politicians running for office up to a certain amount. By using his own war chest, he is unhindered and could really make a financial display of might against Stringer.
When asked about his potential role as Comptroller, Spitzer mention the role is important in dealing with pension funds and the related shares in votes. He said that the position is “a significant player in terms of the pension funds and how those shares are voted. And when I speak with folks about corporate governance, the missing link in all of this has been ownership.”
He went on to say that “Ownership trumps regulation,” and that this power could be used to hold certain entities responsible for certain actions. One example given was in a column in Slate, an online publication. Spitzer points to pension funds using their power to put the screws to gunmakers and other corporations to do what’s best for the public at large as opposed to the bottom line and money. Spitzer also said that the Comptroller is also able to make sure the policies in place work.
Spitzer will need to get 3,750 signatures by Thursday to be eligible for election come the September primary. Given that he has two months and is running for office in a city of over 8 million, he shouldn’t have any problem finding 3,750 people who either want to see him run or forgive him for what he’s done. Expect to see Spitzer in this race; it’s likely he could win.
Anthony Weiner is another story. While he could very well make it to the mayoral dance, he is face some pretty stiff competition, plus he doesn’t exactly have the cool down period Spitzer had where it’s not a case of “Didn’t we just see you” or “Didn’t you just leave?”