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  • FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2013 file pool photo, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, left, and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, both Democrats, participate in the first primary debate for New York City comptroller in the WABC-TV studios in New York. The candidates charged through a last day of campaigning Monday, Sept. 9,2013 before the Democratic primary for city comptroller, one of the most mordantly contested city races this year. (AP Photo/New York Daily News, James Keivom, Pool, File)

Monday, September 09, 2013 5:28 pm

Spitzer, Stringer press toward primary in NYC

By JENNIFER PELTZAssociated Press

Scandal-dented ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and rival Scott Stringer charged through a last day of campaigning Monday before the Democratic primary for city comptroller, one of the most sharply contested city races this year.

With new polls showing a tight contest, both were spending the day making radio appearances, attending rallies and shaking voters' hands on streets and at community centers.

Seeking to rebuild a political career splintered by a prostitution investigation, Spitzer said he felt the campaign had gotten voters thinking more about his political record than about his personal conduct.

"That is out there, but the public has said, `OK, it's there - we're judging you based on what you did in government,'" he said Monday on WWRL-AM's "Morning Show with Mark Riley."

Stringer, currently Manhattan's borough president, is striving to capture a nomination he once expected to snag easily.

"The job of comptroller has to be watching the backs of people. ... I've been out in the streets. I've been working on these issues" while Spitzer has been out of office, Stringer said in a separate interview Monday on Riley's show.

The campaign for the city's top financial post was poised to be placid before Spitzer's last-minute decision to run in July. Since then, the primary race has become keenly competitive - polls Sunday and Monday showed the candidates about even or Stringer slightly ahead - and suffused with bile.

A sample exchange, when Spitzer recently hit a talking point about Stringer's sparse attendance at meetings of one of the city's pension boards:

"I mean, you can't get over like this, man," exclaimed Stringer, who says he's played an active role in the board's decisions and has invoked that as a qualification for comptroller. His fellow trustees also usually send representatives instead of attending themselves.

"Scott, stop talking about it," Spitzer retorted, speaking at a candidate forum last week organized by the Council of Urban Professionals, a networking group.

Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 and has acknowledged he'd patronized call girls. He was never charged with any crime.

He's asked voters to focus instead on his past as a hard-charging politician, both as governor and as a state attorney general dubbed "the sheriff of Wall Street" for his financial investigations.

Stringer, a former state assemblyman, says he's mastered both fighting for causes and forging compromises during 20 years in public office.

And he has urged New Yorkers not to forgive or forget his opponent's personal misdeeds. His campaign sent voters a mailer featuring a photo of prison bars and claiming that others who did what Spitzer did with prostitutes "would go to jail."

Spitzer's aides, meanwhile, have sent reporters emails mocking Stringer for proclaiming a Justin Bieber appreciation day last year.

The winner will face a Republican and other opponents Nov. 5.


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