Longtime West Side politician Scott Stringer is all but certain to be the next comptroller of New York City following his come-from-behind victory in Tuesday’s primary over Eliot Spitzer, the former governor and attorney general.
“It has been a hard-fought race and an amazing journey,” Stringer said.
With 97 percent of precincts in, Stringer led with 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent, the New York Times reported.
Together with Bill de Blasio’s rise from low poll numbers to first place, the outcome suggests voters were engaged in this year’s primary elections and were swayed by debates, news developments and perhaps, campaign commercials.
The Manhattan borough president’s victory ends a campaign that made up in nastiness what it lacked in duration, since Spitzer entered the race only days before the petition-filing deadline in July, seemingly encouraged by the success at the time of Anthony Weiner in the mayoral primary. Both Spitzer and Weiner left office in disgrace in sex scandals that left promising careers in ruins.
With few substantive issues in the race, Stringer evoked Spitzer’s past sins and said he lacked credibility to be the city’s fiscal manager while Spitzer painted his rival as inexperienced, unknowledgeable and unimpressive.
But in his concession speech in Harlem, Spitzer — who reportedly spent more than $10 million of his personal fortune from his family’s real estate empire against Stringer’s $5 million in donations and matching funds — graciously congratulated his rival, while leaving his future plans unclear. At one point he led Stringer by 19 points in a Quinnipiac University poll.
“For me, politics was never a profession, it was a cause,” he said, stoically. “I have never regretted a single day of my public service. I am proud to have served and will continue to serve. I intend to do so in different ways.”
Like Weiner, Spitzer conceded without his wife, Silda Wall, who has not appeared with him in public during the campaign. Spitzer has refused to answer questions about their relationship.
In an interview with WPIX/Channel 11 news, Stringer spokeswoman Audrey Gelman said he was “truly thrilled” at the outcome, which showed that “big money and politics does not equal hearts and minds.”
In his victory speech Stringer thanked his political mentor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whom he succeeded in the Assembly before being elected borough president. “We built a coalition,” Stringer said. “We had labor, we had parents, we had the next generation of Democrats. We had every progressive reform organization in this city.”
According to exit polling by Edison Research reported by the Associated Press, 69 percent of Jewish voters supported Stringer, compared to 31 percent for Spitzer. Both men are Jewish.