As Eliot Spitzer was swamped by media attention at Union Square Park yesterday, he was hit by a massive wave of criticism from members of the Democratic establishment for his decision to run for City Comptroller against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
The New York Times' Michael Barbaro and David Chen summed up the tsunami that swept through the city's political ocean: " From corporate boardrooms to the headquarters of the city’s Democratic political campaigns, phone lines lighted up and strategy sessions were organized on Monday with a single mission in mind: stopping Eliot Spitzer."
With the exception of Anthony Weiner – who wants to have nothing to do with this story – and little-known Sal Albanese, the candidates piled on Spitzer for his audacity in challenging Stringer. Some of this is camera jealousy from the potential Grace Mansion residents; should Spitzer win, he'd receive international attention and potentially soak up some of the media rays that are typically reserved for a mayor. And then there's Spitzer's reputation of not playing so nice when he was governor and state Attorney General. The amount of audits and probes that he would likely launch could drive the most even-keeled mayor off the deep end. City Hall could be a bizarre place next year – and that's even before Hillary Clinton magically grants my wish and runs for Public Advocate.
The early attacks on Spitzer could actually backfire, making Stringer look like he's a puppet of special interests and machine politics who needs to be propped up as he faces a major challenge. And won't New Yorkers want a comptroller who's feared by the powerful? The best way for Stringer to win is to look like a smart and hungry politician who's now the underdog in the race against a tired heavyweight. But by playing Goliath instead of David, Stringer and the rest of the Democrats are playing right into Spitzer's hands.