Skip to main content

New York's sex scandal candidates

By Errol Louis, Special to CNN
July 9, 2013 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, resigned from Congress in 2011 after being embroiled for weeks in a sex scandal linked to his lewd online exchanges with women. Weiner announced in May that he was running for mayor of New York City, saying in a video announcing his campaign, "I hope I get a second chance to work for you." Weiner's comeback bid suffered a potential setback Tuesday, July 23, when he acknowledged more sexually tinged exchanges with an unnamed woman. "What I did was wrong," Weiner said in a statement about the newly emerged communications. Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-New York, resigned from Congress in 2011 after being embroiled for weeks in a sex scandal linked to his lewd online exchanges with women. Weiner announced in May that he was running for mayor of New York City, saying in a video announcing his campaign, "I hope I get a second chance to work for you." Weiner's comeback bid suffered a potential setback Tuesday, July 23, when he acknowledged more sexually tinged exchanges with an unnamed woman. "What I did was wrong," Weiner said in a statement about the newly emerged communications.
HIDE CAPTION
Anthony Weiner
Eliot Spitzer
Mark Sanford
Bill Clinton
Newt Gingrich
Gary Hart
Dennis Kucinich
David Vitter
Marion Barry
Richard Nixon
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Errol Louis: Spitzer making new bid for NYC comptroller; he joins Weiner in arena
  • Both had sex scandals, but similarities end there. Spitzer fessed up in his scandal
  • But Weiner lied, he says. Spitzer has record of accomplishment. Weiner not so much
  • Louis: Weiner in 6-candidate race. Spitzer faces 1 oppenent. Can NYers forgive?

Editor's note: Errol Louis is the host of "Inside City Hall," a nightly political show on NY1, a New York City all-news channel.

(CNN) -- The rest of the world is probably asking what's in the drinking water here in New York, where ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 when his hiring of hookers came to light, surprised everybody by announcing a bid for city comptroller.

Spitzer, dubbed the Love Guv by the city's tabloids, leaps back into the political arena less than two months after former Rep. Anthony Weiner (who'd resigned after texting obscene photos to strangers) announced a run for mayor.

Which raises the admittedly uncomfortable possibility that the city's top two elected officials will be two nationally-known, high-profile married politicians with less than honorable sex-related behavior on their resumes.

Errol Louis
Errol Louis

But that's as far as the similarities go. Spitzer and Weiner have very different histories, committed fundamentally different offenses and will face dramatically different odds in the few weeks left before voters head to the polls in the all-important Sept. 10 Democratic primary.

Has the road to political redemption gotten shorter?

Start with the crimes. Weiner, whose scandalously bawdy texts and photos never involved actually physically meeting up with a woman, spent a week lying about the incidents on any number of local and national television outlets, claiming that his House of Representatives account had been hacked. That, in turn, led to calls for an FBI inquiry, after which Weiner's tower of lies collapsed.

Spitzer, by contrast, simply admitted that he'd hired hookers, apologized for his misbehavior and quit. He now campaigns without the baggage, which Weiner still carries, of having lied to the public and press repeatedly.

Spitzer collects his first signature
2011: Eliot Spitzer signs off
Weiner's confessional interview

When it comes to the record each man brings to the campaign trail, it's not even a close call. In more than eight years as state attorney general and 14 months as governor, Spitzer compiled a string of high-profile wins in battles with Wall Street and prosecutions on behalf of low-paid workers. He also implemented a historic increase of state funding to local school districts and appointed the state's first Latina secretary of state.

Spitzer seeks return to politics -- as NYC comptroller

Weiner's tenure in Congress was notably skimpy on tangible wins. A recent New York Times story noted that, over a 12-year career, Weiner wrote exactly one bill that got enacted. He was a visible, effective voice on key issues, but not the kind of politician who immersed himself in the machinery of government or coalition-building.

But the biggest distinction between the two men, and the most politically relevant, involves their respective paths to victory. Weiner, running in a crowded 6-candidate race, is leading in the polls and, under New York rules, could get into a Democratic runoff pitting him against one of his rivals. He is currently grinding his way through a seemingly endless series of public forums and debates.

By Spitzer leaps into an all-but-empty race for comptroller that had been largely conceded to Scott Stringer, a longtime political insider who'd spent two decades in the legislature and eight in the relatively powerless position of borough president of Manhattan.

Spitzer, who is funding his campaign using his family's personal fortune, hopes to use his money, celebrity and impressive record to blow past his opponent to victory.

Polls suggest that about 40% of New Yorkers think Weiner's offenses disqualify him from office altogether; a comparable number may think the same of Spitzer. That leaves plenty of room for our city's famously tolerant population to decide if they can, or should, elect a pair of soiled, but talented, politicians to run the nation's largest city.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Errol Louis.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
August 17, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1941 GMT (0341 HKT)
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 2146 GMT (0546 HKT)
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 2024 GMT (0424 HKT)
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2308 GMT (0708 HKT)
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
August 12, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT