After being forced to resigned after a lurid sexual harassment scandal that tarnished powerful Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, now-City Council candidate Vito Lopez has become the leper of the Democratic establishment, shunned by formerly loyal supporters and castigated in the harshest terms.
But ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is locked in an increasingly negative race for comptroller, stands out as the rare candidate willing to offer a few kind words.
“We worked very hard when I was attorney general and then governor on housing policy and did great things and Vito was a voice on housing policy and so we worked with him in that context,” Mr. Spitzer told Politicker last week, praising Mr. Lopez’s record on the Assembly’s housing committee.
Mr. Spitzer further said he had no intention of endorsing Mr. Lopez’s main City Council challenger, Anthony Reynoso–or any other candidates–as the vast majority of Democrats have done.
“I’m not getting involved City Council races,” he said, refusing to comment on whether Mr. Lopez should hold elected office.
As for Mr. Lopez’s conduct, he said: “Obviously that has been properly commented upon by many, and I share the views that have been stated over and over again.”
Reached for a response, Spitzer campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith more directly condemned Mr. Lopez while noting that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, their rival in the comptroller’s contest, has been less than aggressive in denouncing Mr. Silver, who secretly authorized confidential settlements that enabled Mr. Lopez to allegedly victimize additional female staffers.
During their last televised debate, Mr. Spitzer stood out by calling on members of the Assembly to “elect a new speaker right now.” Mr. Stringer, meanwhile, hedged and said he would hold his judgment pending the outcome of an investigation “that shows that he may have engaged in wrongful activity.”
“As Eliot said yesterday, he agrees with the condemnations of Mr. Lopez’s reprehensible behavior,” Ms. Smith told Politicker in a statement. “And unlike Scott Stringer, who refuses to stand up to his political patron Shelly Silver, Eliot isn’t afraid to call out wrongdoing when he sees it.”
Mr. Stringer’s spokeswoman Audrey Gelman shot back, keeping her focus squarely on Mr. Lopez’s race.
“Facts are facts,” said Ms. Gelman via email. “Eliot Spitzer refuses to support Vito Lopez’s opponent in his misguided run for City Council. Voters deserve better.”