NEW YORK—With his wife by his side in front of a Fairway Supermarket on the Upper West Side, Scott Stringer came prepared to greet voters, letting them know he would be running for comptroller. Instead, he got a bevy of media, anxious to hear his response to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer entering the race.
Stringer took questions from the press for nearly 20 minutes, deflecting questions away from his infamous competitor in the Democratic primary.
“This is not a race about Eliot Spitzer,” Stringer said. “This is a race about how we will fight for a city.”
The comptroller is the Chief Financial Officer for the city, whose duties include auditing city contracts, and managing the pension funds. With a crowded mayoral field, the race has received little fanfare up to this point.
“I never believed this would be a walk in the park. It shouldn’t be,” Stringer said.
Stringer said his campaign believed former Congressman Anthony Weiner or Spitzer would run against him after they heard of polling calls including both the men’s names. Weiner dove into the crowded Democratic field for mayor, and after two months in the race, he is already leading the pack according to some polls.
Spitzer, who stepped down from the governor’s office in 2008 after articles surfaced he was a client of an escort service, Emperors Club VIP, will need to gather 3,750 signatures by Thursday to be on the ballot for the Democratic nomination.
Stringer should have enough petition signatures because, unlike Spitzer, he has been campaigning for most of the year.
Stringer’s 20 years in service has born plenty of support from some members of the local government, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who gave her seal of approval at an unrelated press conference earlier today.
“Scott Stringer will be the next comptroller of the City of New York. That will be a good thing for New Yorkers,” Quinn, who is running on the Democratic ticket for mayor, said.
Prior to his sex scandal, Spitzer was highly popular among the electorate when he served as attorney general and as governor. His name recognition far exceeds that of Scott Stringer, who has served as Manhattan Borough President since 2006.
“It is not about name recognition today,” Stringer said. “It is about what you support and the ability to articulate a vision for this city. There are so many candidates who started out with better name recognition who you don’t remember anymore.”
Stringer said not much would change in his campaign now that a he faces a high profile candidate and a tough campaign ahead.
“The only thing that changes is more of you follow me around,” Stringer said.