Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner Stage Political Comebacks. Redemption Overload?

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Two New York Democrats. Two sex scandals. Two attempts at political rejuvenation.

It wasn't long ago that Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner - the former governor and the former congressman - had reason to hang their heads in shame, not only for their personal failings but because their ambitions to advance politically seemed dashed.

Mr. Spitzer, a married man, was found to have purchased the service of high-priced prostitutes. Mr. Weiner had sent lewd photos of himself to women (other than his wife) who he had flirted with on the Internet.

Now, each feels ready to reenter the world of electoral politics. Spitzer is running for New York City comptroller, Weiner for mayor of New York. The state's primary election is in September.

In the mayor's race, Weiner has pushed to the lead among a group of Democratic contenders. He edges New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn 25-20 percentage points among registered Democrats in the latest Marist Poll with the rest of the hopefuls trailing off.

"The Weiner candidacy has scrambled the contest," says Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. "But, nearly one in five Democrats are undecided, and almost two-thirds are not firmly committed to a candidate which makes for a lot of persuadable voters."

Most of Weiner's former colleagues in the House of Representatives have rejected his request for endorsement.

"I don't think he's one of the most qualified candidates and I think his record is not such that we ought to be considering him for mayor," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, (D) of New York, said on C-SPAN. "He's entitled to run. I wish he hadn't."

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On the PBS Newshour Friday night, anchor Judy Woodruff asked New York Times columnist David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields whether Spitzer and Weiner had the right to try and make a political comeback.

"Yes, but my rule is start at the bottom," said Mr. Brooks. "So, I am little more pro-Spitzer."

"If you are going to have a fall from grace, start at the bottom and work your way back up," Brooks said. "Show you care about the service, rather than just rebuilding your reputation."

"Don't confuse the two," cautioned Mr. Shields.

"Both of them were ambitious, young, nervy, loved cameras, loved attention. Anthony Weiner was a show horse. Anthony Weiner was a talk show creation," Shields said.

"Eliot Spitzer [as New York attorney general before he became governor] was the only political figure in the United States who dared to take on Wall Street," Shields continued. "And very rarely do you see a politician take on the deepest pocket, most powerful moneyed interests. …