After a tumultuous fourteen months in office, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace after being caught in a prostitution sting. What was once a promising political career that some thought would eventually take him to the White House lay in ruins, all that was left was the image of the disgraced pol standing at a podium with his shell-shocked wife standing next to him. Nineteen months later, some are wondering, could Eliot Spitzer be on his way to a political resurrection?
Spitzer’s problems started long before his escapades with Ashley Dupre became headline news for the tabloids. Spitzer’s first major scandal as Governor came early in his administration when word broke that top Spitzer officials had ordered the State Police to keep special records of State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno’s whereabouts when he used police escorts in New York City and directed the New York State Police to create politically damaging documents about Bruno, a Republican and long time enemy of Spitzer. The event came to be known as “Troopergate”. The effects were almost immediate, Spitzer’s approval numbers dropped and hypothetical polls on the 2010 election showed him losing to potential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the current Mayor of New York City. Scandals continued to haunt Spitzer when in the fall of 2007 he proposed issuing special driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. The plan was criticized by people on all sides of the political spectrum, caused a major headache for Hillary Clinton, then the state’s junior US Senator and a Presidential candidate, and after many adjustments to the plan, Spitzer dropped it all together, and his poll numbers went with it. Spitzer’s resignation came a few months after the license scandal and most people, myself included, thought they had heard the last of him.
We were wrong.
Less than a year after his resignation, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Spitzer on the nation’s economic problems. In December 2008, Spitzer began writing a column for Slate magazine on the economy. He has since began making public appearances and The New York Post ran an article stating that Spitzer was considering running for either the US Senate seat that was once Clinton’s and now held by Kirsten Gillibrand since Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State, or for State Controller, elections for both offices are to be held in 2010. Spitzer quickly denied any interest in running in 2010, but it does raise the question, could Eliot Spitzer make what would arguably be the biggest political comeback of all time?
After his election to the Governorship in 2006, many people saw him as a likely future presidential candidate. After his resignation, many people saw him as dead in the water. Though he avoided criminal charges, his popularity remains low in New York and no one has bothered to poll him nationally. It’s hard to see how Spitzer can come back.
Spitzer though, has been very vocal for someone not planning a comeback. He’s voiced his opinion on the financial recovery process and even touted his record prosecuting white collar crime as the New York state Attorney General. It’s hard to argue that these are simply the actions of a former politician trying to put his two cents in.
If Spitzer were to try for a comeback, could it be successful? Right now, I’d say no. It’s way too soon to see him having any chance at returning to his former glory. A few years down the line, the answer could be different. If Spitzer can stay away from controversy and work at rehabilitating his image, eventually, he could have at least a slight chance of returning in some way to New York state politics, but even then, his chances are sketchy, New Yorkers have long memories and aren’t known for forgiving scandal scarred politicians. One thing though, is almost certainly out of the question, the Presidency. His scandals would be too much of a drag for a successful run at the White House, that dream is dead.
Spitzer’s future remains very uncertain and his chances at a political comeback are slim, but stranger things have happened, and in the strange world of New York politics, anything can happen.
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