Local Professor Says Voters May Be Willing To Forgive Spitzer

Jul 8, 2013

Credit Photo: Getty

Former governor Eliot Spitzer is planning a return to public office, according to a report in the New York Times.  The report says Spitzer has plans to run for New York City comptroller.

A local college professor says this could determine whether the disgraced former governor might have his sights set on statewide office once again.  Timothy Kneeland, professor of history at Nazareth College, says if he were to be elected by voters in New York City, Spitzer, who resigned in the wake of a prostitution scandal in 2008,  might be willing to test the waters for a return to a wider position. "I think he might have a harder time persuading voters statewide. On the other hand, it depends on how he might do as City comptroller. If he does a really good job, voters might be willing to let (the previous scandal) fade and let the new Eliot Spitzer emerge."

Kneeland says voters are much more forgiving of disgraced politicians than they once were. "Even getting a divorce in American politics was seen as pretty limiting for the future. When Governor Rockefeller was divorced in the sixties people said, 'He's never gonna be president. The public won't accept that.' Then, of course, in 1980 we elected President Reagan in 1980, our first president who had been divorced."

The public is more likely to forgive political figures for what they consider private wrong doings, according to Kneeland, but he says it's troubling to think that forgiveness would come so quickly for one who broke the law.  Federal prosecutors never brought charges against Spitzer for his involvement as "client number 9" in an international prostitution service.