City comptroller candidate Scott Stringer said Friday that he won't seek to keep his opponent Eliot Spitzer off the ballot by challenging his nominating petitions -- and repudiated anyone else who would try.
Speaking in downtown Brooklyn during lunchtime, the Manhattan borough president swatted away speculation that his campaign or its supporters would try to derail Spitzer's Democratic primary candidacy by disputing the validity of his nominating signatures.
"I am saying to any Stringer supporter who wants to go to the Board of Elections to take a look at his petitions: Don't waste your time. You shouldn't do it," he said. "We must have this race. You cannot run for comptroller of the City of New York without a robust primary challenge."
"I am not afraid of this fight," Stringer said of the race that suddenly became competitive when Spitzer jumped in Sunday. "Bring it on."
Turning combative, Stringer hammered away at Spitzer's record in Albany, referring to "Eliot Spitzer's failed governorship" that "blew up."
"Nobody wants the steamroller to steamroll New York," Stringer said, a knock at a designation Spitzer once gave himself.
But Stringer insisted he wouldn't criticize Spitzer over the prostitution scandal that forced him to resign as governor in 2008.
"Look, I have two kids," Stringer said. "There are some places I can't personally go."
Stringer did tweak Spitzer for flying to California Friday to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. "He really should have been with the New York guy, [David] Letterman," Stringer said. "Come and fight here."
Friday, Leno first asked Spitzer: "How could you be this stupid?"
His public downfall was "incredibly painful" and he had been infected with hubris, Spitzer said.
Spitzer also touted his record of pursuing financial crimes as the state's attorney general, saying, "Wall Street desperately wants me to lose."
"We had brought a major case against AIG, saying there's fundamental accounting impropriety here. Nobody wanted to acknowledge it," Spitzer told Leno.
Friday, former American International Group chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg sued Spitzer, alleging the former governor defamed him in several statements to the press, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement last night, Spitzer called the suit "frivolous" and said: "I will be happy to discuss the relevant facts in the days ahead."
Spitzer's spokeswoman Lisa Linden said in a statement Friday: "Eliot is thankful to all the New Yorkers who signed petitions granting him a place on the ballot."
Both men submitted many times the 3,750 signatures required to be a candidate in September's primary: Spitzer delivering 27,000 Thursday night, and Stringer, upward of 100,000.
-- With AP