Why Won’t Eliot Spitzer’s Campaign Talk About His Petition-Signing Operation?


Eliot Spitzer has not been at all gunshy about, well, anything since announcing his candidacy for comptroller. Some of this election year’s most bizarre soundbites have been crammed into the single week since Spitzer announced his candidacy. We now know his thoughts on those carnal “urges” within all of us, and that he does not in fact have a sock fetish. So why keep mum on the petition campaign he needs to complete successfully to get on the ballot at all?

Spitzer needs 4,000 signatures by the end of today to certify his candidacy. And yet his campaign has actively deterred coverage of the petition drive. What gives? Anna Merlan, my colleague here at the Voice, has a theory: “If he doesn’t get those signatures he’s going to look not awesome.” Indeed.

Not willing to take no for an answer, Capital New York writer Azi Paybarah set out to a known hotspot for signature-gatherers, 86th Street & Lexington Avenue. (We have to wonder, known to whom? Are we on the outside on this one?)

Not surprisingly, the memo had reached the canvassers to not speak to reporters. Paybarah was rebuffed, but stuck around, trying to get kids to talk to him.

The report turned out to be hilarious, intentionally or not. Totally unexpected was just how strangely the petition-gatherers behaved around Paybarah, even though he identified himself as a reporter. (To be fair, he did follow them around for about an hour. Fight intrepid with weird and shifty, maybe).

Here’s an especially choice sequence:

The three Spitzer volunteers then walked back to their original corner, and I followed.
They stood there talking among themselves for a moment, and then Allan [one of the canvassers] turned to me and told me his phone had died, and asked if he could call his mother.

I said yes and asked what number he needed to call. He gave me the number and I dialed it. It went to a voicemail message that sounded exactly like Allan’s voice. I handed the phone to him. He made a comment to the other volunteers about my dialing the number instead of him.

He spoke into the phone and said something about being home late and gave the phone back to me. (Presumably this was an elaborate way of getting my cell number, which I would happily have given him if he’d asked.)

Yikes. Less 007 than Persistent Pick-Up Artist.

We want to hear from readers about any encounters you’ve had with Spitzer’s ground game. Were they as shady as Paybarah’s?

Correction: An earlier version stated that Paybarah followed the petitioners around for hours. Paybarah only followed them around for about one hour.

(h/t: Capital New York)