It's Client #9 vs. the Organization Man.
With so much attention focused this week on the Democratic race for mayor, we almost forgot about that wild-and-wooly undercard: Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer in the fight to be the next comptroller.
Last night's debate brought us back up to the speed in the campaign – where when we last left the candidates, Stringer was wondering if voters should elect someone who resigned in a prostitution scandal while Spitzer tried to look like the smarty-pants guy who you'd want to manage your investments. The debate was largely a repeat performance of their previous two encounters with the two candidates often bickering and interrupting each other. (Although Stringer bizarrely said he'd allow Spitzer to babysit his two kids – immediately causing his wife to flip out on Twitter and rescind the offer.)
If recent polls are to be believed, Spitzer has a sizable lead in the race but those numbers were crunched before three blistering newspaper editorials trashed the former Luv Guv while endorsing Stringer. And day after day, it seems that someone new in the Democratic establishment is endorsing Stringer or campaigning with him. (It's no wonder that Spitzer threw Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver under the steamroller in last night's debate, saying he should be ousted.)
Spitzer is also winning the air war, blanketing the airwaves with clever commercials crafted by adman Jimmy Siegel. The Sherriff of Wall Street is using his family's fortune to bankroll his campaign, giving him a big leg up over Stringer who's enrolled in the city's campaign finance system.
The challenge for Stringer is to translate his strong organizational support into votes. It's not easy when most New Yorkers are still trying to focus on the campaign for mayor – let alone that odd Public Advocate's race (which we'll talk more about Monday.) Rattling the skeletons in Spitzer's closet may not be enough to win. Meanwhile, Spitzer is trying to slash and burn his way to victory – and back to relevance. And it's safe to say that whoever wins will very likely be running for mayor in four or eight years. That's why Spitzer's many enemies are trying to stop him before he gets out of comptrol.