Spitzer, Weiner: Worth noting the differences

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer addresses an

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer addresses an audience during a Harvard University ethics forum on the school's campus in Cambridge, Mass. (Nov. 12, 2009) (Credit: AP)

Dan Janison

Melville. N.Y. Tuesday January 26, 2010. Daniel Janison, Dan Janison

Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday for 10

bio | email

Just great, you may well think. Now, New York City's Democrats could choose a ticket with ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner running for mayor and ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer running for comptroller.

With ex-Assemb. Vito Lopez looking to win a City Council seat, you figure skeptically, maybe he will be inspired to seek the remaining citywide slot, the public advocate's office.

But although Weiner and Spitzer ran aground in sex-related scandals, it is worth noting the differences in their quests and profiles.

A friend of Spitzer weeks ago asked me whether Weiner had the clear rationale to run for a way bigger job than he ever had less than two years after the sexting-and-lying scandal forced him from Congress. By contrast, the friend said, Spitzer has been out of politics for five years, a more acceptable period for a comeback.

The city comptrollership would not be as big a fall as dispatching cabs at night. But in contrast to Weiner, the former governor is chasing a post well below the jurisdiction and power of his old statewide job -- which he won in 2006 in a big landslide, only to give it up in 2008 after he essentially admitted to a high-priced prostitution habit.

Their relative ages, 54 and 48, may make a point about half-generations. It was Weiner, the younger man, who ran into trouble using photos instantly transmitted on Twitter.

Spitzer helped subsidize the oldest profession the old-fashioned way, in person, though his tale, too, had an electronic twist: money transfers reportedly detected by federal officials.

Spitzer also apparently broke the law while Weiner did not; Weiner lied repeatedly to the public once caught, while Spitzer did not.

That doesn't leave either of these married men much to work with if it ever comes to debating higher moral ground. It does, however, give Kristin Davis, who has said she was Spitzer's "madam," more to talk about. Sometime back, she announced her candidacy for city comptroller as well.