Stringer, echoing a timeless Spitzer criticism, says ‘money doesn’t buy the comptroller’s office’

Stringer and his wife, Elyse. (Dana Rubinstein)
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"I heard you were looking for me," said Scott Stringer to a very large scrum of reporters this afternoon, on the steaming sidewalk outside of the Fairway on the Upper West Side.

This weekend, Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced governor, announced in The New York Times that he was running for New York City Comptroller against Stringer.

Stringer today claimed that not only was he long expecting this sort of thing to happen—"I always thought [Anthony] Weiner or Spitzer could consider this race"—but he wasn't planning to change his campaign strategy in the slightest, even though Spitzer's name recognition far outpaces his own.

The optics of today's event, however, suggested that he would put a renewed focus on his comparatively normative family life and his "integrity."

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Stringer's first act upon arriving to Fairway was to introduce his wife Elyse, something Spitzer hasn't been able to do thus far, presumably because he and his wife are (reportedly) living apart.

Stringer declined, repeatedly, to comment directly on Spitzer's prostitution scandal.

When I asked if his wife's presence at his first media availability after Spitzer's announcement wasn't itself a tacit comment on Spitzer's history, Stringer said, "There's a reason I asked Elyse to join me today. It's because we convinced my mother and my stepfather that they could watch Miles and we could get out here and do this."

(Miles is one of Stringer's two young sons.)

Stringer also said he would run the comptroller's office "through the lens of collaboration and integrity."

The former famously promised to "steamroll" Albany until he was felled by a prostitution scandal.

New Yorkers, said Stringer, "need to trust the comptroller to watch their backs," he said. "They've got to trust the comptroller, who's gonna watch out for their pension money."

And he chided Spitzer for deciding to opt out of the campaign finance system, which frees him from having to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time and from spending limits.

"We actually were surprised that someone who had been a proponent of campaign financing is not really in the system," he said. "But listen, money doesn't buy the comptroller's office."

Use of personal wealth has been a recurring theme for Spitzer in political career. He leveraged his father's real-estate money when he first ran for state attorney general, and was roundly criticized for it by his Democratic opponents in 1994, when he lost, and in 1998, when he won.