Skip to main content

New York's sex scandal candidates

By Errol Louis, Special to CNN
updated 1:59 PM EDT, Tue July 9, 2013
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
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Jimmy Carter's message about the need to restore trust in public officials is a vital one, decades after the now 90-year-old he first voiced it
updated 5:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Ford Vox says mistakes and missed opportunities along the line to a diagnosis of Ebola in a Liberian man have put Dallas residents at risk of fatal infection
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Pepper Schwartz says California is trying, but its law requiring step-by-step consent is just not the way hot and heavy sex proceeds on college campuses
updated 10:17 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Mike Downey says long-suffering fans, waiting for good playoff news since 1985, finally get something to cheer about
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Steve Israel saysJohn Boehner's Congress and the tea party will be remembered for shutting down government one year ago
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Yep. You read the headline right, says Peter Bergen, writing on the new government that stresses national unity
updated 7:12 PM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators are but the latest freedom group to be abandoned by the Obama administration, says Mike Gonzalez
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT