Roger Stone has a dirty mind. This is true in a lot of senses, and one sense involves Kristin Davis, the current candidate for governor of New York and an ex-madam who claims to have provided services to Eliot Spitzer. “I thought she was very hot, and I wanted to meet her,” the G.O.P. strategist and Nixonite said of Ms. Davis, whose pinup photographs he’d admired in the Post. “I had a misimpression of her as a dumb blonde, which she most definitely is not.”
The pair subsequently met for a coffee date, where Mr. Stone learned the following things about Ms. Davis: She was brainy; she was looking for a way to change the system; and four months in Riker’s Island, where she was sentenced following an indictment for promoting prostitution, is not easy on a woman. “I said to her, ‘What you ought to do is run for governor,'” he recalled. “‘You’ll get a lot of press because of your, uh, interaction with Eliot Spitzer.'”
‘Take you,’ Davis said. ‘You could be marketed as a Samantha, an Isabelle, a Katie or a Carrie.’
Some months later, the veteran strategist is still on Mr. Spitzer’s case. “CNN should now be called Client Number Nine,” he cracked. “Not that we’re in this to bust Spitzer’s chops–although to the extent that he keeps hanging around and getting thrown out of the Harvard Club …” Mr. Stone trailed off, then switched tacks. “Kristin’s not in any illegal business now. Not that she denigrates hookers, as it were.”
As a political operator, Mr. Stone is reflective in the visual rather than the emotive sense. He is literally shiny: His pocket square is silk, his hair bleached, his fingernails painted a pearl shade. His rhetoric is similarly without friction. Unflattering questions and thorny topics–his role as adviser to Carl Paladino, say, or his motives for aiding Ms. Davis–slide right off him. Mr. Stone put on his sunglasses to signal the end of the interview.
The sunglasses were Andrew Miller’s cue. Mr. Miller, who is Ms. Davis’ campaign manager, is a 26-year-old who resembles Sopranos star Robert Iler. On Monday, he organized a press conference at a hotel one block from Albany’s city center so that Ms. Davis could respond to Andrew Cuomo’s remarks about marijuana. On the way to pick up his boss, Mr. Miller was working on a laptop in the front seat of a Town Car, Photoshopping campaign photos and studying the Wikipedia page for Standard Oil. “If you want to buy crack, go to Albany,” he said.
Ms. Davis, who is listed on the ballot as a representative of the Anti-Prohibition Party, met the car outside of her home on the Upper East Side. The candidate’s agenda proposes to legalize prostitution, marijuana and casino gambling; cut taxes; and balance the state budget. “My mind is analytical and process-based,” Ms. Davis said, citing 10 years of experience at a hedge fund. “Credit-derivative swaps, total return swaps, asset-backed securities”–she rolled up a piece of gum like a sushi roll and popped it into her mouth–“I’m used to dealing with very complex products.”
Like sex, for one. During her stint as a madam in the early aughts, Ms. Davis programmed computer systems to place automated postings on Craigslist and routed phone calls through Uruguay using a multitiered modem with eight Ethernet plugs. She maintained that it was marketing, however, and not hardware that drove her business. “Take you,” she said to The Observer. “You could be marketed as a Samantha, an Isabelle, a Katie or a Carrie, with a different biography for each identity.” Ms. Davis enjoys negotiating. “Sex is like water,” she said. “Water is free, but you can still sell it.”
“We’re hoping for a big turnout today,” Mr. Miller interjected from the front seat.
The Town Car sped north on Interstate 87, past road stops and weigh stations. Sugar maple and red oak trees lined the highway.
“The way that I look is not synonymous with being intelligent,” Ms. Davis continued. “I used to wear a bra called a ‘minimizer’–it was a sort of hefty sports bra–and never, ever, skirts. Now I’ve stopped de-feminizing myself. I’m not saying a woman should be unprofessional, but if a man can’t control himself because a woman is showing some calf, that’s his problem.”
Ms. Davis’ cadence is measured; she does not chatter or primp. She seems happy, but not blithely so. She finds favorable news “fine and dandy” and responds to unfavorable news with “big whoop.” Her favorite authors are Dean Koontz, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises and Thomas Friedman, and she enjoys scary movies and Crumbs cupcakes, 2.5 of which she guiltily consumed over the weekend. People recognize her on the subway, but so far no one has been hostile. “It doesn’t happen often,” she said.
At the hotel in Albany, Ms. Davis changed into a skirt suit and 5-inch platform heels with black satin bows. The conference room, with 20 chairs facing a lectern, was empty. Andrew Miller grimly adjusted his tie. At the designated hour only seven people had shown up, four of whom were associated with Ms. Davis’ campaign. One member of the crowd was a heckler who tried to get Ms. Davis to admit that her campaign is a stunt. “You don’t really think you have a chance, do you?” he asked.
“Blood, sweat and tears have gone into this campaign,” she responded.
“But you obviously don’t believe you’re going to win.”
“Every vote for me is a win. It is my hope to get enough votes to add this party to the ballot.”
While a television crew shot B-roll footage of the empty chairs in front of her, Ms. Davis outlined her policies, citing statistics and poll data. When the conference was adjourned, she headed back to a holding pen, where she paced in one platform shoe and one flip-flop. “What grade do I get?” she asked Mr. Miller.
Miller pondered the question for a moment. “You get an A.”