- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose investigations of white-collar crime have shaken the nation’s financial institutions, said yesterday he will run for governor in 2006.

Mr. Spitzer has long been known to be interested in the job, but it was the first time the high-profile attorney general has said he definitely will run.

“The state is at a point of crisis,” the Democrat said. “We are bleeding jobs. We need reform in the process of government.”

In his two terms, Mr. Spitzer has won national and international attention with groundbreaking investigations of Wall Street investment houses, mutual-fund managers and, most recently, the insurance industry.

Republican Gov. George E. Pataki has not yet said if he will seek a fourth, four-year term in 2006, although new state Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik said Friday he expected the governor would run for re-election.

Mr. Spitzer called Mr. Pataki “a friend” and “somebody who I respect,” but said New Yorkers “have not seen the sort of energetic engagement in our executive that we need.”

He said his goal is “to make the Empire State once again the center of job creation, intellectual growth, creativity, dynamism and great ideas in government. We have been all of those things in the past 200 years and we have lost it.”

Mr. Spitzer’s investigations of financial institutions have put him on the political map with multimillion dollar settlements and boardroom resignations. But his activities also have drawn criticism that he is most interested in headlines. Mr. Pataki’s spokeswoman Lisa DeWald Stoll once said: “We all know that A.G. stands for aspiring governor.”

A statewide poll released last week by Zogby International had Mr. Spitzer favored by 44 percent of likely voters, with Mr. Pataki the choice of 41 percent. In a hypothetical matchup with former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Spitzer would trail 36 percent to 52 percent. Mr. Giuliani has not shown any interest in the governor’s race.

Mr. Spitzer’s path to the Democratic nomination was eased considerably last month when newly re-elected Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said he would stay in Congress rather than run for governor. He was considered Mr. Spitzer’s chief competition.

Mr. Spitzer, the 45-year-old Harvard Law School-educated son of a millionaire New York developer, already has the backing of a host of top New York Democrats, including former Gov. Mario Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Last year, Mr. Spitzer was named one of New York magazine’s “50 Sexiest New Yorkers.”

“We love the strong-jawed, bright-eyed attorney general, a modern-day Eliot Ness who’s both tough and charming,” according to the magazine.

“It was good for a laugh at home,” recalled Mr. Spitzer. “My daughters thought it was a big joke.”

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