NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is asking the public for a second chance as he starts collecting thousands of signatures needed to enter the race for New York City comptroller, years after he was caught in a prostitution scandal that culminated in one of politics’ steepest falls from power.
Spitzer, a Democrat, met with voters in Union Square on Monday to launch his comeback attempt. Candidates for citywide offices like comptroller have to have 3,750 signatures from registered voters in their party by Thursday.
“The happiest years of my life professionally were as attorney general, as governor, as a prosecutor and I’d like to go back to public service,” he told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell and CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported, the former governor’s return to the campaign trail was not without hecklers, shouting things such as the following:
“Spitzer, you cheated on your wife!”
“You betrayed your constituents. You abandoned your wife. You betrayed everybody!”
“This is about power. You just want power, man. If you want public service go volunteer somewhere!”
“Did you leave your black socks on?”
Spitzer appeared to take it in stride, as if he expected it.
“This is what I look forward to — dealing with the public,” said Spitzer. “This is New York. You know when we go to a ballpark we heckle the pitcher who throws one bad pitch. We have a little bit of the heckler in each one of us. At a certain point it passes the line of decorum, but this is New York. This is politics. I’m game for it. I got skin as thick as a rhinoceros so I’m ready for anything.”
Kramer then asked Spitzer, “You threw one bad pitch. Is it one bad pitch?”
To which Spitzer replied, “I said the pitcher throws a lot. I’m sure I threw more than one, trust me. Nobody throws a perfect game, trust me. I’ve thrown a couple no-hitters. I’ve thrown some doozies on the other side.”
As the former governor answered questions in Union Square, he was surrounded by a mob of 50 members of the media.
“I love the maelstrom, I love the screaming, I love the shouting. But what I love most of all is doing things for the public,” the disgraced former governor said.