Paterson Thinks Weiner Spurred Spitzer’s Run

Angel Ball 2012

Former Gov. David Paterson. (Photo: Getty)

Eliot Spitzer’s gubernatorial successor David Paterson, a close ally and former ticket-mate of the new city comptroller candidate, believes Anthony Weiner’s strong showing in the Democratic mayoral primary helped motivate Mr. Spitzer to leap into the race days before the petitioning deadline.

“I think that decision was made within the last week,” Mr. Paterson told radio host Curtis Sliwa yesterday, suggesting a fellow scandal-scarred pol’s success informed Mr. Spitzer’s decision. “Maybe the governor saw the way in which Congressman Weiner is holding his own in the Democratic primary.”

Mr. Paterson then offered a companion theory that involved praising the AM 970 host.

“And maybe he heard on the Curtis Sliwa show, Curtis’ admonitions,” Mr. Paterson added, sitting with Mr. Sliwa in the tony Statler Grill near Penn Station Tuesday evening. “How could a position that garners so much importance in city government, … the comptroller’s office, only have one Democratic candidate and a Republican candidate … how can that be? Maybe that resonated with the governor.”

While Mr. Spitzer never said Mr. Weiner’s mayoral run drove him to again run for office, many political observers have similarly speculated that Mr. Weiner’s solid position in the public polls gave Mr. Spitzer evidence of the electorate’s forgiving nature. (Mr. Paterson is no stranger to scandal himself, at least on a smaller scale; upon becoming governor, he admitted to past extramarital affairs.)

Mr. Paterson is in a uniquely complicated position in the suddenly heated comptroller’s race. Mr. Paterson already endorsed Mr. Spitzer’s opponent, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, but he was also once Mr. Spitzer’s lieutenant governor. After Mr. Spitzer abruptly resigned in 2008 in the wake of a prostitution scandal, Mr. Paterson took his place and the two remained close friends; Mr. Paterson once even vowed to support Mr. Spitzer in any comeback bid.

Nevertheless, he reiterated his support for Mr. Stringer, saying he had pledged his word to the Manhattan borough president. But, he implied that if Mr. Spitzer had joined the fray sooner, he may have been Mr. Paterson’s favored candidate.

Mr. Spitzer “really has an unfinished mission in serving the public,” he argued.

Paterson Thinks Weiner Spurred Spitzer’s Run