Scott Stringer speaks to the media after a debate against...

Scott Stringer speaks to the media after a debate against his Comptroller rival Eliot Spitzer at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan (Aug. 12, 2013) Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

As New York's political races lurch toward Primary Day on Tuesday, tempers are fraying, fingers are pointing and good judgment is going to pot.

Consider the Republican mayoral campaign of John Catsimatidis. On Wednesday it lambasted front-runner Joseph Lhota in a full-page newspaper ad because Lhota favors making marijuana legal.

"What Mayoral Candidate Wants to CREATE MORE POT HEADS?" it screams. ". . . Say It Ain't So, Joe!"

The ad says legalization would put more drug dealers and criminals on the streets. But economics 101 suggests the opposite is true: It would elbow illegal weed dealers out of business as licensed competitors moved in.

Lhota says for the record that he's for fiscal discipline, favors abortion rights, has no problem with same-sex marriage and last smoked pot maybe 40 years ago.

What's the Catsimatidis campaign been smoking?

Meanwhile, Eliot Spitzer's Democratic campaign for city comptroller served up an ugly moment of its own this week when it swiped at primary opponent Scott Stringer for a tough vote he cast as a 1996 state assemblyman.

The measure was to suddenly revoke the tax-exempt status of NAMBLA -- the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Stringer voted against revocation. We know. NAMBLA's goal is to abolish age of consent laws between men and boys. Stringer says he finds the group "abhorrent and disgusting." So do we. But that's not the point.

Stringer said this week he voted as he did because he was worried about the constitutionality of taking action against a group mainly because it's disliked. He's right. Constitutional protections can't be decided by popularity.

But the Spitzer campaign isn't buying it. "Scott Stringer has tried to make this race about judgment, and the voters of New York will decide what this says about his," said a Spitzer spokeswoman.

We think it says that Stringer -- like Lhota -- is willing to wrestle honestly with complicated questions on occasion and make gutsy public decisions. Their first instinct is not to duck, dissemble and distort. Good for them.

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