Eliot Spitzer showed up like Santa Claus at the city's Board of Elections at 10:30 last night with a long list of 27,000 signatures to get on the ballot in the city comptroller's race. Will his rival, Scott Stringer, be checking that list twice? It's likely moot because even if 23,000 New Yorkers signed their names Donald Duck or Honey Boo Boo, Spitzer will be on the ballot. In the words of the late great George Jones: the race is on.
And what better way to celebrate stuffing the Board of Election's stocking than going on "The Tonight Show" ? That's Spitzer's plan – to be the first city comptroller candidate to appear on a television program that's taped west of the Hudson River. And sitting next to him tonight will be the man who's mercilessly skewered him for years on "Saturday Night Live" – Bill Hader.
While it might lots of fun to yuk it up with stars, Spitzer should be careful not to get too far ahead of himself. Although Stringer is certainly the underdog in the race, he's a dangerous one – with plenty of institutional support and a crackerjack staff by his side. Spitzer also made plenty of enemies over the years and they will certainly come to the aid of anyone running against the former governor and state Attorney General.
If he's smart, Stringer will don a lumberjack shirt and tirelessly roam the city – with his wife -- and portray himself as a populist family man who gets his hands dirty but has a clean mind. The argument that we'll likely hear from Team Stringer about Spitzer is that he's -- in David Letterman's words – "out of comptrol" and can't be trusted to watch over more than $100 billion in pension funds. And it helps that The New York Times has already all but endorsed Stringer.
Spitzer will likely play up the stature gap between himself and a guy who's never been elected to anything outside of Manhattan. He'll argue that he's "The Sherriff of Wall Street" who wants to take his badge to City Hall. While Spitzer's record as governor is checkered, it's a different story as state Attorney General where he received heavy praise for his investigations and prosecutions. Wonking out on the campaign trail would also be beneficial for Spitzer and – perhaps - get people to stop thinking of him as Client 9.
I've never been more excited about a downballot debate – which NY1 will be hosting a month from now. In the meantime, let's all try to comptrol ourselves.