The Fruits of Eliot Spitzer's Expensive Comeback Campaign

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Eliot Spitzer sure is spending a whole lot of money on this bid for New York City comptroller, but is he getting a worthy return on his investment? According to just released campaign finance reports, documented Sunday morning by The New York Times, the New York Post and the New York Daily News, Eliot Spitzer has so far contributed $3.7 million out of his own pockets to finance his campaign. Of that small fortune, he's already spent roughly $2.5 million since his campaign launched on July 7. Comparatively, Stringer has only raised a modest $310,595 in the same time period. He's only spent $173,355. His coffers are full, though, and things will surely get ugly sooner than later. 

The cost to play for Spitzer was high enough. The former governor had to pay $271,000 just on petitions to get his name on the ballot opposite current Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. Yes, Eliot Spitzer spent more getting his name on the ballot than Scott Stringer has in the last month on his campaign. Oh, and you'll be shocked to hear Stringer is already attacking Spitzer for his deep-pocketed tactics. "Eliot Spitzer spent more per day getting his name on the ballot than the average New York City voter makes in a year," Stringer spokesperson Audrey Gelman told the papers.

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That's a huge amount of money for Spitzer to spend on a campaign in a little over a month but such is life when you're re-entering politics for the first time after you resigned as governor over your affinity for high-priced escorts. 

Surprisingly, Spitzer doesn't have a huge lead after spending so much more on than his frugal opponent. Recent polls either paint Spitzer ahead of Stringer by a mile or an inch, depending on who you choose to believe. Spitzer led by 12 points among likely voters in the last Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist poll, but his lead was trimmed to four points among likely Democratic voters in the latest from Quinnipiac University. So Stringer isn't entirely out of the woods just yet -- campaigns can turn around in an instant, as Spitzer's scandal prone pal Anthony Weiner recently showed us with his bid for mayor. 

But we're now entering the heart of the campaign when the spending will ramp up ahead of election day. Stringer has $4.6 million cash on hand and hasn't yet started advertising on television. Meanwhile, Spitzer already spent $2 million on TV ads. It's a head start Stringer will have to fight aggressively to overcome. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.