Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who after resigning from office because of a sex scandal, said today that his early lead in New York City’s comptroller race shows that voters are beginning to warm to his candidacy.
“I don’t take polls and rely upon them, but the poll numbers reflect that the public is interested in having an independent voice in that position,” Spitzer told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “This Week.” “That is what I promise I will be.”
Spitzer resigned in 2008 after he was caught patronizing a high dollar prostitution ring. He announced his candidacy for New York City Comptroller last week, which gave him only four days to collect 3,750 signatures in order to get on the ballot.
A Wall Street Journal/Marist poll this week showed Spitzer holding a 42 percent to 33 percent lead over his opponent Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer after only a few days in the race.
Yet Spitzer has been dogged by attacks from his political foes who say breaking the law by paying thousands of dollars for prostitutes disqualifies him from public office.
Today, he dismissed the criticism.
“Opponents will say all sorts of things, the voters will make that determination,” Spitzer said. “When I talk to citizens and they’re saying: ‘Look, you’ve erred, you looked the public in the eye five years ago, and you said you believe in accountability. You stepped forward and accepted responsibility.’”
“And that is what I did and that is a fundamental point that I think the public should look at,” he added.
Citing his push for drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, advocacy for low wage workers, and outspokenness on corruption in Wall Street, Spitzer said voters should look at his record and not the scandal that forced his resignation five years ago.
“I have done a fair bit. It’s been five years. I’ve taught, I have written, I have hosted a few TV shows,” Spitzer said. “But I’ve asked the voters of the city for forgiveness, but I’ve also said, look at the totality of my record—the independence of my voice when it came to Wall Street, when it came to standing up for the environment, low wage workers, immigrants.”
Spitzer called the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, “a failure of justice.”
“The judicial system is not perfect, and in this case it has failed,” said Spitzer, who formerly served as New York’s attorney general. “And before we get into a conversation of whether the prosecution was flawed that it should have handled it in a different way there is a simple reality here, an innocent young man is walking down the street, was confronted by a stranger with a gun and that innocent young man was shot.”
“The criminal justice system should be able to deal with situations like that,” he added.