In public re-emergence, some wonder what's next for Spitzer
With Albany reeling from the chaos of a scandal-plagued governor and rising discontent with the current crop of politicians, New York has been hearing more from a ghost of scandals past: Eliot Spitzer.
From his emotional appearance on the “Today” to his wonky Slate columns to his yukking it up with the likes of Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher, Spitzer has been parceling out appearances that seem orchestrated to restore his reputation.
“(His) public rehabilitation has unfolded like a superbly-run political campaign,” said Rogan Kersh, a political science professor at NYU. “I don't think you would see so many rumors about him running if he or someone close to him weren't putting them out there."
While it’s hard to imagine Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace two years ago after being caught with pricey call girls, running for office in the immediate future, the lure of the public stage appears strong.
Spitzer, who declined to be interviewed for this story, works mostly in his father’s real estate empire. He recently told Time magazine that a political bid would be “unbearable” for his family.
But with each public appearance, which usually involves a rehash of his sordid past, many wonder why he would endure the embarrassment if not for some larger goal.
“I watched him on Colbert and it was impressive the way he ate his spinach, got his point out and then moved on,” said former Public Advocate Mark Green. “There’s a long list of talented people who messed up but redeemed themselves by showing courage after humiliation.”
Rumors have the ex-governor eyeing a run for everything from state comptroller to U.S. Senator. And Green said he expects Spitzer, 50, to reassess the political field in four to six years.
“Eliot Spitzer understands that the American people have a great capacity for redemption – he told me that once,” said state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs. “He’s definitely not someone you discount.”
Others said if he has a second act, it’s more likely as a voice on certain issues, similar to the role disgraced politician, Gary Hart, assumed on foreign policy.
“This was a moral scar that’s hard to bounce back from,” said Lee Miringoff, director of polling at the Marist Institute, which conducted recent survey showing nearly 70 percent of people did not want Spitzer to run for office. “I’m not sure where he’ll be in five or 10 years but the asterisk will still be next to his name.”