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At 10:30 last night, Eliot Spitzer, who very much wants to be your comptroller, submitted a comically large number of signatures to the Board of Elections’ Manhattan office. His campaign workers, who may be operating out of his apartment and who sometimes gets a touch squirrelly when being followed by reporters, needed to turn in 3,750 signatures to get him on the ballot. They turned in what they said was 27,000, gathering them in just 96 hours. Now, in indisputable proof that New Yorkers believe in redemption, or maybe just evidence of the power of name recognition, he’s leading Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by nine points, according to one early poll.
Soon after turning in the signatures, Spitzer tweeted, in three parts, “Against the odds and all predictions–and in light of some who tried to thwart the effort–I am pleased to announce that we have collected more than 27,000 signatures in four days. I want to thank those who assisted with this effort and the New Yorkers who signed these petitions. I pledge to stand with you against the special interests and on the crucial issues.”
It’s not clear who exactly tried to “thwart” his signature-gathering; he didn’t elaborate. But Spitzer also made it clear that any candidate who challenges those signatures going forward–who could that be, we wonder–would “be sending a statement they don’t really believe in democracy.”
“We don’t believe that bosses dictate who gets on the ballot,” he added, according to the New York Times, who reported that the statement appeared to be a “thinly veiled attack” on Scott Stringer, who’s received several union endorsements and has the backing of the Democratic party. So thinly veiled, really, that it’s not veiled at all.
Stringer’s campaign, meanwhile, says they gathered more than 100,000 signatures, and, according to the Times, added, with a bit of a sniff, that theirs had been obtained by volunteers, not paid folks like the Spitzer camp. (Campaigns are the only time politicians will openly brag about not paying their workers.)
We don’t know yet whether Stringer will choose to challenge some of Spitzer’s signatures, but in the meantime, a joint poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal shows Spitzer leading Stringer handily. His lead is especially strong among the sizable “people who have never heard of Scott Stringer” demographic. Forty-two percent of Democratic voters said they’d vote for Spitzer, while 33 percent said they’d support Stringer. But fully 43 percent of Democrats said “they’d never heard of [Stringer] or were unsure what they thought of him.” That actually sounds about right for a comptroller candidate.
After turning in those signatures, Spitzer promptly flew to L.A., where he’ll appear tonight on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In response, Audrey Gelman, Stringer’s always entertaining campaign manager, tweeted, “Spitzer skipping town four days into his campaign? Scott Stringer will be right here, talking to voters.” Several of whom will actually know who he is.