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Poll: Is it the Year of the Horndog in New York?

July 08, 2013|By Jon Healey
  • Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer collects signatures in New York on Monday so he can run for city comptroller. Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 after it was discovered that he was using a high-end call girl service.
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer collects signatures in New York on Monday so he… (Andrew Burton / Getty Images )

Just how much can the voters of New York City forgive?

Disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced Sunday that he'll try to join disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner on the ballot for this year's city elections. Weiner, a Democrat who resigned after tweeting lewd pictures to several women, is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor. Spitzer, a Democrat who resigned after frequenting a high-end prostitution service, wants to run for comptroller.

Spitzer's not officially in the race yet -- he has until Thursday to gather the 3,750 signatures needed to qualify -- but that barrier seems insubstantial to a man with his name recognition and resources. The bigger question is whether city voters are ready to trust their finances (or at least the auditing thereof) to a guy who put his office at risk by arranging clandestine meetings with a call girl.

That's not the narrative Spitzer will be running on, of course. He'll probably try to focus voters' attention on his work as a hard-charging prosecutor and state attorney general, where he made a name for himself by targeting corruption in the financial industry. But at least one of his opponents in the race will serve as a constant reminder to voters about Spitzer's sexual transgressions. That would be Kristin Davis, the former madam who helped set up Spitzer's trysts.

Meanwhile, Weiner has jumped out to an early lead in the governor's race, according to a recent poll. So New York Democrats appear to be capable of looking past a candidate's peccadilloes under the right conditions (read: lack of a compelling alternative). And they're not the only ones -- witness the recent triumph of disgraced former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, in a special election to the House of Representatives. Sanford had (in)famously gone missing for five days in 2009 while on an assignation with his Argentinian mistress (she's now his fiancée).

Call it the Year of the Horndog. But how would you feel about a candidate who'd been forced out of office by a sex scandal? Take our salaciously unscientific poll, leave a comment, or do both.

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Follow Jon Healey on Twitter @jcahealey

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