In 2006, Eliot Spitzer was an unstoppable force in New York State politics. Brave, conservative footsoldier John Faso allowed himself to be steamrolled by the Attorney General on his path to the Governor's Mansion. By 2008, Spitzer was out of office due to a prostitution scandal that shook the seemingly unshakable Governor. Now, in 2010, Eliot Spitzer is considering a run for one of only statewide offices he has yet to hold - Comptroller.
Why would he want to run for Comptroller? While his current reasons are unknown - let me tell you a little story about New York's current Comptroller. In 2006 it was discovered that the incumbent Comptroller had been violating state law and inappropriately using state funds. His campaign for reelection began to slow down, but he won nonetheless. Within 2 weeks of winning reelection, he was removed from office for his crimes as part of a plea bargain with the Albany County District Attorney's office. In 2007, the replacement process began.
Then Governor Spitzer discussed with the legislature the idea of having two former State Comptrollers (one GOP, one Democrat) and the current NYC Comptroller, people who they all trusted, interview potential contenders for the role. Then, the legislature would take their suggestions and select a new Comptroller. The interview process was an open process filled with Republicans and Democrats alike. They narrowed it down to three highly qualified candidates - one from the private sector and two experienced politicians versed in government auditing. The Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats, who were in charge of their respective chambers, ignored this list. They instead picked one of their own, Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, to be the next Comptroller. Instead of respecting the process they had all agreed upon ahead of time - they decided to select one of their cronies. Understandably, the Governor was disappointed.
Three years later, Spitzer has his opportunity to get back at those who wronged him by selecting someone he did not trust and who did not meet the qualifications he felt were necessary to be Comptroller. So, he is considering a primary challenge to DiNapoli. This would create a huge rift between the Democratic establishment in New York and create an opportunity for a united GOP, if they are up to the task.
Enter my suggested candidate - Doug Hoffman. Hoffman would unite grassroots conservatives, the GOP establishment, and the Conservative Party with a candidate who is highly qualified with his private sector experience. Unlike his race for Congress, Hoffman can speak 100% with certainty on the issues of auditing and keeping the State's budget in check. With the right organization, a united front behind Hoffman could head into the new year ready to fight. If the Democrats decide to fight amongst themselves - a united GOP could bring their message to the people directly, build up Hoffman's name recognition, and shift the general election discussion to the issues that really matter.
Even if Hoffman does not enter - there are other highly qualified contenders such as Chris Callaghan (2006 nominee) or John Faso (2002 nominee, former Assembly Minority Leader). The point is that if the GOP can unite on this the most obscure of statewide offices - they may have a chance to allow New York to have an actual independent State Auditor who is not beholden to the Albany establishment for the first time in many, many years.
Cross posted at Old Line Elephant