In the soap opera that is New York City politics, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose tenure in the state’s highest seat crashed and burned in the wake of a prostitution scandal in 2008, decided to join fellow disgraced politician Anthony Weiner and jump into the pool of individuals running for office this week – leaving other candidates practically flailing their arms to remind the public that they are there too, just without the hordes of cameras following them around.
Spitzer, who was outed for patronizing prostitutes while he was the state’s top dog, announced his candidacy for city comptroller Sunday night – just days before he needed to collect thousands of petition signatures to be on the ballot in the Sept. 10 primary. His foray back into political life follows the re-emergence of Weiner, whose apologetic re-entrance into politics came after he tweeted lewd photos of himself and subsequently resigned from Congress in 2011.
With much of the media’s attention shifting from Weiner to Spitzer – who is running against Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for the city’s second highest elected office – mayoral candidates continued to tout endorsements and release policy proposals in an attempt to chart a political landscape now dotted with big personalities who have plenty of microphone time.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn – once the Democratic frontrunner in the mayoral race – lambasted both Spitzer and Weiner, saying at a Tuesday press conference that the two have not earned a second chance.
“What have they done with their time since their fall from grace that would earn them this second chance?” Quinn asked. “I would say, ‘not very much.’”
Like all the other candidates, Quinn must submit her signatures to be on September’s ballot by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, and her campaign said she has close to 48,000 signatures – far more than the 3,750 needed.
The speaker also recently landed the endorsements of a number of Queens legislators, including Council members Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, expects to file 60,000 petition signatures for his mayoral bid – and the Brooklyn-based legislator has been issuing a number of policy statements that have piqued the interest of South Queens residents, including a report released in his capacity as public advocate calling for unifying city volunteer databases, expanding first-aid and emergency training for volunteers and conduction a citywide inventory of disaster-related supplies to better prepare for the next major disaster.
City Comptroller John Liu, a former Democratic councilman from Flushing, will provide more than 65,000 petition signatures, and he, like Quinn, slammed Weiner and Spitzer, saying this week their bids for office are a “huge affront to women in New York City.”
Former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, who ran against Mayor Bloomberg in the last election in 2009, touted the endorsement he scored this week for his mayoral campaign from the the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which represents about 8,200 firefighters in the five boroughs.
Sal Albanese, a former councilman from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, plans to turn in approximately 8,500 signatures for his mayoral bid, according to his campaign. While at Queens campaign events, Albanese has frequently spoken to residents about his plan to secure more resources for Hurricane Sandy victims, including setting up a program that would pair an affected residents with a government official who would help them with everything from mold removal to rebuilding their house. Albanese also recently said he would want to set up a program in which residents in neighborhoods decimated by Sandy could receive a year’s rent to vacate their homes to prepare them for the next major storm.
The Republicans too have been trying to make some noise that will be heard over Spitzer and Weiner.
Billlionaire and Gristedes CEO John Catsimatidis said on Tuesday that he collected more than 25,000 signatures – with more of those coming from Queens than any other borough.
“These signatures are proof positive of the groundswell of support my campaign is receiving from rank and file Republicans throughout the city,” he said in a prepared statement.
Former MTA Chair Joe Lhota is expected to submit more than 17,000 petitions, and he also recently issued a policy statement that garnered him attention in the Rockaways and South Queens.
Last week, Lhota said the state should mandate electrical companies whose service area covers evacuated flood zones to terminate power prior to expected storm surges – in an effort to prevent another fire like the one that devastated Breezy Point during Hurricane Sandy. Residents from that area recently filed a lawsuit against Long Island Power Authority and National Grid for not shutting power off, which they said could have prevented the loss of about 150 homes.
“We must make sure that the proper procedures are in place to try and prevent this from ever happening again,” Lhota said.
Doe Fund Founder George McDonald – who was the first candidate to file his petitions – submitted 7,550 signatures on Monday. And Independence Party candidate Adolfo Carrion, Jr.’s campaign said he is expected to file more than 5,000 signatures.
By Anna Gustafson