It looks like 2013 is the year of the political comeback.
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned from office in disgrace five years ago amid a prostitution scandal, announced on Monday that he’s running for New York City comptroller. The Democrat and married father of three hopes voters will give him a second chance.
“Five years later, I think I can ask for forgiveness,” Spitzer said on Hardball. “I can say to the public, look at the entirety of my record as attorney general, as a prosecutor, as governor. I have erred. I have acknowledged it. I have sinned. I make no denial of that. I am asking for an opportunity to serve, which is what I love to do.”
Spitzer’s attempted re-entry into public life comes as several other scandal-plagued politicians this year are showing that voters are willing to forgive and forget. There’s Mark Sanford, the former Gov. of South Carolina, who resigned following revelations of an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman. In May, the world’s most famous Appalachian trail hiker won a seat in a special election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Then there’s former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, who called it quits two years ago after tweeting lewd photos of himself. Now Weiner is at or near the top of polls for New York mayor.
Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish asked Spitzer if his current run meant that his resignation as governor was unwarranted. Spitzer said no.
“When I resigned I felt very deeply that I had violated the public trust. I needed to act in accordance with my view that accountability means something. So I resigned. There were some people that said ‘try to hang on, try to stay in office.’ I said no. I must resign, I should resign,” he said. Spitzer said he made his decision to run only 48 hours earlier, and confirmed his wife would be on the campaign trail beside him.
Since his resignation, Spitzer co-hosted “In the Arena” on CNN, which was eventually cancelled by the network. He also hosted “Viewpoint” on Current TV.
Current comptroller John Liu has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor. Up until today, Dems have been rallying around Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to become head of city’s finances. Other opponents include Republican John Burnett, Green Party candidate Julia Willebrand and former madam Kristin Davis. Davis has claimed to have supplied prostitutes to Spitzer, which has not been proven.
Besides the prostitution scandal, Spitzer faces additional obstacles from his time as governor, including a scandal in which some of his aides were charged with ethics violations in what's now known as "Trooper Gate." He also controversially argued in favor of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Smerconish noted that Spitzer would likely become late-night fodder for comedians if he and Weiner were both to win. The Democrat brushed the notion aside.
“I’ve been late night fodder. Thank goodness for the remote button, you change the channel. I’ve got the skin as thick as a rhinoceros,” said Spitzer.