Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Eliot Spitzer's July Surprise

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Um, did anything happen this weekend?

In case the tabloid headline writers were getting bored with all those awful Anthony Weiner puns, Eliot Spitzer handed them an early holiday present last night by jumping into the City Comptroller's race with both socks on. (Sadly, "Luv Comptroller" doesn't quite have the same right as "Luv Guv".)

The campaign trail this summer could now serve as a double redemption tour for two remarkably talented politicians whose libidos caused them to self-immolate. And could you imagine the testosterone pumping through City Hall in a Weiner/Spitzer administration? Meanwhile, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer -- who seemed to have a clear shot at the comptroller's job – is probably trying to find his Xanax bottle.

While the New York political world is still trying to stop hyperventilating and catch its breath this morning, Spitzer has several tough questions to tackle:

• Can he get on the ballot? Spitzer has four days to get at least 3,750 signatures from Democratic voters to petition his way onto the ballot. While this may not sound tough, candidates have to do a lot of work to ensure that the signatures are legitimate. But as long as Spitzer has qualified staffers or volunteers working the streets, this should be easily doable.

• Are voters over the scandal? The "yuck" factor still exists with some New Yorkers after they learned that the "Sherriff of Wall Street" engaged in a series of lurid affairs with high-priced call girls. And could any more women come out of the woodwork?

• Can you trust him? Sure, he's not asking to run the entire city but the comptroller still oversees more than $100 billion in pension funds. Do you want Eliot Spitzer watching the candy store?

• Does it matter that he's not in the city's campaign finance system? A longtime proponent of good-government reform causes, Spitzer is self-funding his campaign. While many voters don't care about this issue, it could certainly be a factor with newspaper editorial boards that look at this as a sacred cause.

• Isn't he really looking at this job as a stepping stone to Gracie Mansion? It seems unlikely that Eliot Spitzer ever really dreamt of being the city's top bookkeeper. The good news for Spitzer is that Scott Stringer also can't really say with a straight face that being comptroller was his lifelong ambition.

• Can you throw together a successful campaign in two months? Sure, everyone knows who you are but you need actual people working for you to schedule events, organize volunteers, write press releases and get yelled at by the candidate. These campaigns don't run themselves.

Is it too late for anyone else to form an exploratory committee? I'm just waiting for that phone call from Alan Hevesi...

Bob Hardt

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