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Stringer Begins Sideswipes As Spitzer Collects Signatures For City Comptroller Bid

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Disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is not wasting any time when it comes to reaching out to New Yorkers for a political comeback.

Spitzer, who resigned five years ago as a result of a prostitution scandal, announced his intention to get on the ballot in the city comptrollers race late Sunday night.

He has been out of politics since his resignation, trying instead for a career in television.

Spitzer briefly hosted a show on CNN and appeared as a Wise Guy on NY1's "Inside City Hall".

Now, he wants to return to public life.

After talking to voters in Union Square Monday, the former governor told NY1 he was happy to be back in the political game.

"I love it, there's an energy to it. That's not why you get into it on a hot steamy day like today. But it certainly is something that I do enjoy. What I enjoy more than anything else, as has been clear from my record over the years, is the ability to serve," Spitzer said.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was the presumed front-runner in the race for comptroller so far.

The borough president did not mention Spitzer when he met with voters on the Upper West Side on Monday, but he hinted to reporters that the former governor, who was famously confrontational with opponents in the state Legislature, would not have the right temperament for the job.

"This office has never been more important with the new mayor coming in, and you need someone with a steady hand, who is grounded, who has maturity, who thinks about the long term," Stringer said. "This race is not about 'me, myself and I.' This race is about the people in this race who are struggling. And that's who this campaign is going to be focusing on."

The borough president has also criticized Spitzer's wanting to self-fund his campaign with family money, rather than using public campaign funding.

Stringer indicated that he will show his wife and children more on the campaign trail, to contrast with Spitzer's scandal-ridden image, and implied that candidates' personalities will play a factor in the race.

"I believe that every election is in some ways about integrity. It's about do the voters, do the working people of this city when they go to vote, can they rely on the candidate to watch out for them?" Stringer said.

Later on Monday, Spitzer spoke on NY1's "Road To City Hall" and told anchor Errol Louis that he "would not take the bait" of responding to Stringer's comments.

Spitzer did say that his record as a prosecutor, state attorney general and governor was "of the highest level" and that his own maturity came through when he was "ahead of the curve" on issues like same-sex marriage.

The former governor was also briefly emotional when talking about how he handled the prostitution scandal.

"I resigned, I held myself accountable and it was a very difficult period for me and my family. I was told by some people 'You could ride this out.' I said, 'No. I believe in accountability, I'm not going to waiver from that. I've strayed far enough,'" said Spitzer. "I believe in accountability. Resignation is what's appropriate."

Spitzer told NY1 he realizes there will be some voters who may not be able to trust him again.

New Yorkers, meanwhile, are mixed on the idea of having the former "Sheriff of Wall Street" back in public office.

"He lied to the people before and why would he change," said one New Yorker.

"I think everybody makes mistakes and maybe they should give him a chance. Look at Weiner. He's coming far," said another New Yorker.

"Forgive him. Let him live," said a third New Yorker.

Spitzer has until Thursday to get some 4,000 signatures to get himself on the ballot.

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