Eliot Spitzer's resurrection -- from the disgraced governor better known as Client 9 to CNN talk-show host -- has the political class buzzing about him running for mayor in 2013. Wilder still, one of his former targets is talking about running against him.Could Democrats take a chance on Spitzer? Or might they look elsewhere?
Former New York Stock Exchange chief Dick Grasso -- one of the highest-profile targets of Spitzer's uneven assault on Wall Street -- has quietly been telling friends that he's leaning toward challenging Spitzer as a Republican (particularly if Police Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn't seek the GOP nomination himself, as some speculate he will).
Sure, Grasso (a Jackson Heights native) has no political experience, unless you consider his long years as NYSE chief, before he was forced out in 2003 amid the controversy over his massive compensation package. But ever since he beat back Spitzer's charges that he'd improperly collected tens of millions in salary as the head of the NYSE back in 2008, Grasso's been dropping hints to reporters that he may run for public office, possibly mayor.
And I'm told that Grasso's enraged at Spitzer's resurrection, as the liberal media and left-wing documentarians paint him as a force for pure good during his days as AG over the pure evil that were his Wall Street targets (Grasso included).
First a few caveats. The Grasso-for-mayor notion is a longshot (Grasso, who didn't return a phone call, is known for playing practical jokes), and the Spitzer-for-mayor scenario is far from a layup.
The idea is that Spitzer, the son of a near-billionaire real-estate magnate, would run as as a self-financed independent, a la Mike Bloomberg. But he's got baggage that Bloomberg, for all his crass temperament, didn't have in 2001 -- starting with his record in state politics.
"Polarizing" doesn't capture the Spitzer effect: During his short stint as governor, he was widely despised even by many fellow Democrats as a bully, threatening or throwing temper tantrums at the slightest provocation. Who needs a tough-talking lightweight as mayor?
For the record, a CNN flack says Spitzer has "no plans" to run for mayor and "is happy doing the show." Yet Spitzer is clearly fantasizing about a run, I'm told by several prominent city Democrats.
His fantasies have been buttressed, I also hear, by his ego-inflating experience as a CNN host (despite its lousy ratings) and the favorable treatment he got in "Client 9," the documentary about his rise and fall, as well as in "Inside Job," the Oscar-winning documentary on the financial crisis.
Indeed, is there a New York City Democrat more loathsome and contemptible than Spitzer waiting in the wings?