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Spitzer takes 19-point lead in New York City comptroller primary

Eliot Spitzer, center, a candidate for New York City comptroller, campaigns in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. (AP)

Former New York governor  Eliot Spitzer has claimed a 19-point lead against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the Democratic primary for the New York City comptroller, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll also showed a strong 47-point lead among black voters, whom Spitzer has targeted largely in the outer boroughs. And while the fallout following Spitzer's 2008 prostitution scandal cast doubt on whether or not he would be able to gain the confidence of women voters, Spitzer currently has a 18-point lead among them too.

The jump comes two days after a Siena College poll found that 68 percent of New York State voters viewed Spitzer and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's attempts at a comeback "embarrassing." The Siena College poll, however, surveyed voters from all of New York state and lumped Spitzer in which Weiner, whose personal problems have shown to be considerably more of an issue than Spitzer's.

Unlike Weiner, Spitzer has remained relevant in his primary race. Though still receiving coverage for his past indiscretions, Spitzer experienced slight leads in the polls throughout the summer, which can be attributed to his own investment of personal wealth in the campaign as well as his national name recognition.

Three weeks ahead of Stringer, Spitzer launched his first TV commercial, an apology ad that appealed for a second chance and made a bold claim: "If you hear any negative noise — and you will — keep in mind where it’s coming from,” he said, alluding to his reputation as the prosecutor of Wall Street.

The ad was followed by a series of populist-themed videos that emphasized voters in attempt to quiet the noise on Spitzer's personal life. Stringer's first TV ad emphasizing cutting waste airs Thursday, a significant ad buy that will air in all five boroughs.

"Scott Stringer is running a campaign based on the needs of working people in this city,” said Stringer campaign spokeswoman Audrey Gelman. “As more New Yorkers get to know him, we are confident they will support him, and his fight for the middle class."

Though the poll's numbers find Spitzer above the 50 percent mark, the office is still aggressively contested. At the last two comptroller debates Friday and Monday, Spitzer and Stringer sparred on everything from legislation to Spitzer's past.

The Democratic primary is Sept. 10; the general election is Nov. 5.

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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