Last week, Scott Stringer was a New York politician running in quiet, local race to be New York City’s comptroller. A longtime New York politician and the Manhattan borough president, he was a clear front-runner for the gig.
Then, on Sunday, Eliot Spitzer told reporters he was planning to put himself on the ballot. The former governor would seek forgiveness and redemption for his involvement in a high-end prostitution ring that ended his term as the state’s governor.
Suddenly, Stringer’s race was thrown into a media frenzy and limelight only a scandalized politician hoping for a comeback can garner. On Tuesday, Spitzer appeared on Morning Joe for an intense interview that brought him to tears as he recalled his past and asked for forgiveness.
“It’s still painful to watch,” Stringer said of the governor’s teary appearance. “I want to have a different conversation with New York voters. I want to talk about the fiscal challenges the city faces.”
Despite reports that Spitzer’s candidacy came as a surprise, Stringer said he’d heard talk of a run by the former governor but that “it doesn’t matter when he decided, but we’re ready to talk about the issues.”
Stringer stressed his long record—which includes representing New York in the State Assembly during Spitzer’s term as governor—and his promise to be a guardian of the city’s pensions and finances.
“This is not about being a sheriff, this is about being a steward,” he said. “I don’t think that skill of dividing…or trying to steamroll people is what the job is,” he added, referring to Spitzer’s own characterization of his professional style, ‘steamroller.’
Asked his opinion of his opponent, Stringer was dismissive.
“It’s not about liking him. I don’t want to be his friend. I don’t want him to confess to me. I don’t want that drama,” he said. “We’re going to make this a very short run. I’m going to be out in the streets, we’re going to be well-financed. The people of New York City understand what’s at stake.”