Eliot’s Republican Guest

More than 1,300 people showed up at Eliot Spitzer’s $5 million fundraiser tonight, but observers of the state’s shifting power structure took particular note of one guest: Michael Finnegan.

Finnegan is a Republican and a former top aide to Governor Pataki who now works for JPMorganChase (a firm that does quite a bit of bond work for the state). Equally important, he’s a close personal friend of Pataki.

And now, it appears, he’s another player in the state power structure moving toward Eliot. (Not the first: that honor goes, perhaps, to Al D’Amato’s lobbyist brother, Armand, who showed up at a Spitzer fundraiser this time last year.)

Finnegan and the rest of the crowd heard Eliot strike a slightly more partisan note than usual.

“No party has done so much for so few who need so little,” he said of the GOP.

The setting — a fundraiser full of lobbyists — generally struck a contrast with the event’s righteous tone, which featured pledges from Spitzer’s wife and mother that they only plan to vote for him because of what he’ll do for New York State. Mom, one thinks, could be forgiven for voting for him just because he’s her son. Silda too. But what about Mike Finnegan?