NEW YORK Eliot Spitzer's political comeback is alive, CBS New York station WCBS-TV reports.
The disgraced former governor stood outside the offices of the New York City's Board of Elections Thursday night and revealed to a throng of reporters he had obtained more than enough signatures to get on the Democratic primary ballot in the race for city comptroller.
Standing with boxes of documents, Spitzer announced his campaign had amassed far more signatures than the 3,750 he needed.
"I want to first and foremost thank the citizens of New York who have signed these petitions," Spitzer said. "I want to say that it's an important statement to those who said it was not possible in the course of three-and-a-half days to gather enough signatures to get a candidate on the ballot for citywide office. I am proud the citizens, in an outpouring of support, have given us more than 27,000 signatures.
"And every day we got more. Every day the number of people who walked up unsolicited on the street and said, 'We want to sign this petition; we want to show that citizen democracy works,' was impressive," said Spitzer. "So I want to say thank you to the citizens and pledge to them that I will do what I've always done in every campaign as a candidate or civil servant: I will fight for their interests every day."
When asked about the validity of the signatures, Spitzer said, "We have done this in the most meticulous way. We have checked to make sure this was done properly."
Earlier in the day, Spitzer may have played possum when speaking to WCBS-TV.
"It's not easy to get 3,750 signatures over the course of a couple days on the streets of the city, but I feel good that we will hit the mark and give ourselves a little margin," Spitzer had said.
Since entering the comptroller's race on Sunday, Spitzer's main task had been gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot.
"I will feel exhausted. We have worked hard since Sunday," he told WCBS-TV.
But the man who was forced to abandon the governor's mansion five years ago amid a prostitution scandal is clearly hoping to trade-in the title "luv guv" for "comeback kid."
A new Marist poll has him ahead of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by 9 points overall, 42 percent to 33 percent, with 24 percent undecided.
Among white voters, Stringer is ahead 46 percent to 32 percent.
However, Spitzer leads among black voters 50 percent to 25 percent and among Latino voters 46 percent to 29 percent.
"That's comforting. I think the public has heard a lot of noise over the past few days," Spitzer told WCBS-TV. "But I think what has come through also is the dedication I bring to this, the record I have fighting for folks in the street."
Meanwhile, Stinger boasted he's going to have about 100,000 signatures on his petition.
"We're filing more signatures than candidates for mayor," he said.
And as for trailing in the Marist poll, the Stringer campaign released the following statement: "You know all about this poll stuff. What goes up, must come down."
Until Spitzer entered the race, Stringer was running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for the seat.
"We have entered into the Twilight Zone, it is the land of Oz," Baruch College political science professor Doug Muzzio told CBS New York station WINS-AM. "But, come on. Otherwise, we'd have a boring summer. The Mets are lousy; the Yankees are playing over their heads. This really is excitement and interest, and he's a smart guy, and he'll shake up the race."
Stringer also criticized Spitzer for being a deep-pockets rich guy opting to pay for the campaign himself so he can spend whatever he wants with no Campaign Finance Board limits.
Stringer can only spend about $4 million on his campaign because he's accepting public matching funds.
He said he'd be more than happy to intercede for his opponent.
"I would write a letter to the Campaign Finance Board and say, 'Let my friend into the program, too, so we can have a level playing field.' I think that's fair," Stringer said.
Meanwhile, Stringer's campaign took a swipe at Spitzer for making an appearance on "The Tonight Show," which is taped in Los Angeles.
"Eliot Spitzer skipping town four days into his campaign? Scott Stringer will be right here, talking to voters. Sadly for Jay Leno, Eliot Spitzer's resignation from office was no laughing matter," a statement from the Stringer camp said.