Stringer was the establishment Democratic Party choice before this. He stepped away from the mayoral race as a sign of good faith to his party. Although a Republican candidate has emerged, there was no fear on the Democratic end that they would surrender this office with Stringer as their nominee.
Stringer brings no unexplainable baggage, and he has solid liberal progressive bona fides in New York City politics. But somehow Spitzer saw enough daylight to run right through Stringer’s established campaign...at least so far.
Electorates, no matter where they are, tend to expect from candidates both character and the ability to get things done. The most notable big city politicians in recent decades have been those who shun party politics.
Rudy Giuliani was a Republican, but he was not involved in GOP politics in the city. Mike Bloomberg is another politician that ran on a party line only because he needed ballot access. Adrian Fenty, the former Washington, D.C., mayor also drifted from party politics.
These people were all focused on agendas that were outside the lines of a party. It could be that voters no longer want a party man, but instead more of a technocrat. Eliot Spitzer, whether you like him or not, is not a party politician. He brings his own agenda.
When Stringer stepped aside to do right by his party, he was doing what made sense in traditional politics, but may not any longer. Spitzer would not have stepped aside to bridge a gap for the party.
The question then comes down to why Spitzer wants to be comptroller. Is this just a stepping stone to becoming a mayoral candidate? That would be another eight years if his party wins City Hall. Unless, of course, he refuses to step aside.
The comptroller is vitally important to this city. There are millions of dollars in pensions that need to perform well. If it sounds a little like betting on horses, it is. Spitzer is qualified to seek this office, so people should not say otherwise. The real question is why he would want this position.
The Republican Party does have a nominee in John Burnett. Burnett may appear on paper to be more of what the Democratic Party would have liked in their own candidate. Burnett comes from a lower middle-class family in East New York. He built himself up and attended Cornell University for his MBA.
Getting elected in this city is very hard to do, and Burnett probably knows this. What he has, that the other candidates do not have, is a narrative that might make him more identifiable with most voters.
Most New Yorkers do not come from political families. Many of them do not come from money. Coming from money does not make one less effective as a leader, but if Burnett can campaign as everything his opponent is not, he can make this a race worth watching.
Find a Place for Comrie
Councilman Leroy Comrie has abandoned his effort to be elected Queens Borough President. It was probably a smart move considering the traction that both Peter Vallone, Jr. and Melinda Katz have already gotten in this race.
Comrie is term-limited out of his City Council seat after this year. It would wise for whoever is elected in November to consider Comrie for a deputy borough president's spot should he be interested. He brings a lot of institutional knowledge in the areas of health care that would be useful in such a large borough.
Comrie has also bravely jumped into the debate about healthy foods and good eating. It’s not an easy stance to take in politics ever since junk food became a symbol of American freedom.
Queens should find a place for him in local government if he does not have other plans.