“Everyone seems to be against former Gov. Eliot Spitzer except the voters, especially black voters.”
The words spoken by Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, sent shock waves through the city’s Democratic circles on Aug. 14.
The poll released that day found that Spitzer, who resigned his office in disgrace in 2008, had a 56-37 lead over Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer among likely Democratic voters in the Sept. 10 primary — this despite all of Spitzer’s personal issues and his virtual last-minute entry into the race.
But published reports in the New York Post and elsewhere are saying that what has the city’s Stringer-backing Democratic establishment more than a little bit concerned is how well Spitzer is polling among African-American voters, with a commanding 68-21 lead.
Perhaps the only person taking the news in stride is Spitzer himself.
“I’m not surprised — I’m polling ahead in a lot of places,” he told the Queens Chronicle. “I think the only reason it’s in the news is because I have that support.”
The Quinnipiac numbers bear him out. Spitzer was leading among men by 58 to 37; women 54 to 36 percent. Stringer leads among white voters by 53 to 43.
An unscientific poll conducted by the Queens Chronicle among African-American voters found most either declining to comment or saying they were not following the race.
But those who did respond tended to reinforce both candidates’ negatives — Spitzer’s past scandals while in office; and Stringer’s lack of broad name recognition.
Roslyn Powell of Jamaica said she is backing Stringer on Sept. 10.
“Spitzer has too much baggage,” she said.
“Stringer has been around a long time. He doesn’t need to scream, isn’t loud or boisterous. He just gets the job done.”
If there was one place where Stringer should be able to count on name recognition, it should be Manhattan, which he represented in the state Assembly before serving as borough president the last eight years.
But Manhattan resident James Mayo, speaking at the Archer Avenue bus and subway hub, said he is leaning toward Spitzer.
“I remember Spitzer’s problems,” he said. “But I don’t know what Scott Stringer has done.”
The Post has reported that Stringer has hired a pair of political heavyweights from the African-American community — Patrick Jenkins, who is an associate of Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens and Nassau), and Kevin Wardally, who is close with Gov. Cuomo.
The Post also is reporting that former Mayor David Dinkins, Congressman Charles Rangel and former state comptroller Carl McCall are endorsing Stringer.
So is former Gov. David Patterson, who was Spitzer’s lieutenant governor and became the state’s first African-American governor upon his resignation.
Spitzer, who served two terms as the state’s attorney general before being elected governor, resigned the state’s top office after only 13 months. He was caught up in a prostitution scandal, and was alleged to have used the state police to gather information on political enemies. State and federal investigations led to no charges being filed against him.
The poll found 23 percent of Democrats say Spitzer’s behavior disqualifies him; 44 said it is an issue but does not disqualify him; and 23 said it is not an issue.