Posted at: 07/08/2013 7:03 PM
Updated at: 07/08/2013 7:15 PM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY -- Five years after resigning in the midst of a prostitution scandal, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is returning to politics.
Spitzer announced Sunday that he is running for New York City comptroller. He has to collect close to 4,000 petition signatures by Thursday to qualify for the Democratic primary.
"People have forgiveness in their hearts," he told reporters in Manhattan on Monday. "Whether that forgiveness extends to me is a separate issue."
At that point, a heckler shouted, "Not everybody forgives."
In an added twist, one of Spitzer's opponents is the former madam who claims to have booked his prostitutes. Kristin Davis is running for city comptroller on the Libertarian line.
Both Spitzer and Davis are chasing the front-runner in the race, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
The tabloids had a field day with Spitzer's comeback attempt. The cover of the New York Daily News exclaimed, "What the El!" The New York Post declared, "Here we ho again!" and reported that Spitzer is "throwing his pants into the ring."
"I believe everybody deserves a second chance," Pat Lonardelli, of East Greenbush, said. "He's a smart guy. Give him a second chance."
David Phillips disagreed.
"It amazes me how often people think, 'Well, let's prove that I'm not trustworthy by how I treat my family, and then expect to be trusted with public money,'" Phillips, of Colonie, said. "But, you know, as my wife says, maybe he's changed."
This could be the year of change and redemption in New York City.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned two years ago in a sexting scandal, is gaining ground in the race to become New York City's next mayor. Former state Assemblymember Vito Lopez, who resigned this year amid sexual harrassment claims, is running for a city council seat.
New York G.O.P. Chairman Ed Cox issued a statement Monday blasting the "Unholy Trinity of disgraced Democrats."
"How can anyone take New York City Democrats seriously when their ballot this November may include all three of Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner and Vito Lopez?" Cox asked.
Cox is pushing for Republican John Burnett to become the city's next comptroller.
For his part, Spitzer said he does not see the post as a stepping stone to a bigger office. He insisted he misses public service, and would like the chance to serve again.
"Politics is as exciting an endeavor one can pursue because it matters," Spitzer said. "I care about it deeply, and I loved it."
Darren Dopp, Spitzer's former communications director who took the fall in the Troopergate scandal, told NewsChannel 13 he wishes his former boss well. Former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, the target of the scandal and a longtime Spitzer foe, declined to comment, a spokesman said.