While Weiner is seeking New York City’s biggest political prize — the mayor’s job — Spitzer is running for city comptroller, a relatively modest post that has been regarded as something of a political backwater.
Not that Spitzer sees the job that way.
“There’s substantial authority here that I think can be used in exciting ways,” he said in an interview as he scrambled to gather the 3,750 valid signatures he must produce by Thursday to be placed on the ballot for the September primary.
“I have looked voters in the eye, walked on the street, and I think people are willing to give me a shot,” Spitzer added. “And I think it is based on the record I built when I was attorney general, when I was governor, when I was assistant district attorney, a prosecutor of organized crime.
“Not everybody knows every piece of this, of course,” he conceded, “but I think there’s a sense of somebody who fought, who fought hard and tried hard.”
In some ways, Spitzer’s move marks a return to his roots in public life.
As a scrappy state attorney general, he took on investment banks, polluters, gun manufacturers and employers that did not pay minimum wage. His expansion of that office’s previously limited role catapulted him to a landslide victory in the 2006 governor’s race and fueled talk of a run for president.
Instead, Spitzer’s fortunes came crashing to Earth in 2008, when the New York Times reported that he had been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to pay a high-priced prostitution service.
Practically overnight, the man once lionized as “the sheriff of Wall Street” became known as “Client 9,” which was how he was referred to in an affidavit in the investigation of the Emperor’s Club V.I.P. ring. Spitzer resigned within 48 hours of the revelation and has spent the past five years building a new public image as a columnist and television pundit.
Seeking second chances
In their public comments, neither Spitzer nor Weiner has directly addressed the obvious comparison between them.
Weiner hopes to find political redemption after being forced to resign two years ago amid a scandal over sexually explicit communications he had sent to women online.
But unlike Spitzer, who has been elected three times statewide, Weiner is asking for support from voters whom, with the exception of those in certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, he has never represented. In his 12 years in Congress, Weiner left little by way of legislative achievement and was known mainly for his verbal sparring on cable news channels.