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In a phone interview Monday, Spitzer said he would also use the comptroller's voice to make sure policies are working, "not just that the paper clips are counted."
But political analysts say Spitzer will need to walk a fine line between maintaining the "steamroller" persona that propelled him into the governor's office and signaling to voters he knows he made a mistake.
"He's got to be a different model of Spitzer," said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic strategist. "And this model has got to be as competent and less arrogant and be prepared to say, 'Look, I screwed up, forgive me, because I think I can do this job.'"
Spitzer's arrival shakes up what had looked to be a predictable comptroller's race. Democratic Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a former state assemblyman, had raised more than $3.5 million while his lesser-known opponents had yet to report any fundraising or spending.
"Bring it on. We're ready for this," Stringer said at a news conference Monday. His campaign manager has said Spitzer is trying to "buy personal redemption with his family fortune."
Republican candidate John Burnett, meanwhile, said New Yorkers deserve better than "a disgraced former governor" as comptroller.
And another contender, Kristin Davis, may make it difficult for Spitzer to avoid questions about his past. She was convicted of promoting prostitution and claims to have provided call girls to Spitzer, which hasn't been proven.
As for Weiner, when asked whether Spitzer was someone he could work with as mayor, he said yes but declined to comment further.
"I think everyone was surprised, but it hasn't changed my life at all," he said.