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Spitzer fails in New York political comeback attempt

Former New York State Governor and current Democratic candidate for New York City Controller Eliot Spitzer emerges from a voting booth after
Former New York State Governor and current Democratic candidate for New York City Controller Eliot Spitzer emerges from a voting booth after

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, whose political ascent came to a halt five years ago in a prostitution scandal, lost his bid for a political comeback on Tuesday.

Spitzer conceded to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the race for the Democratic nomination for New York City comptroller, a post akin to the city's chief financial officer.

In a speech that lasted less than two minutes, he said he would find different ways to serve the public.

"For me, politics was never a profession, it was a cause," he said at his campaign party as about 150 supporters cheered.

Spitzer, 54, first won the limelight for taking on big Wall Street banks as state attorney general.

Just over a year after being sworn in as governor, Spitzer was caught on a wiretap talking to an escort service to arrange a date with a prostitute. He resigned almost immediately but was never charged with a crime.

He was nicknamed by tabloids the "Love Guv," which eclipsed his prior reputation as the "Sheriff of Wall Street."

"I'm hurt. I think he's a good man regardless of what happened in his past," said supporter Kimberlyn Crawford as she left the campaign party.

"I believed in him because of what he tried to do on Wall Street," she added. "He was trying to help the little people. He would have been a great voice for us."

Stringer, 53, is a veteran of city and state Democratic politics.

He will square off against John Burnett, who was unopposed as the Republican candidate, in the November 5 general election. A Republican has not won the position in over six decades.

The comptroller manages the city's $140 billion public pension funds, audits a myriad of agencies and is a watchdog for the city's $70 billion budget - which is likely to have a more than $2 billion deficit in fiscal 2015.

Spitzer was not the only candidate plagued by scandal in New York's political arena. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner was leading the Democratic primary race for mayor until news that his penchant for texting women lewd pictures of himself resurfaced. Partial results on Tuesday showed him finishing last.

(Editing by Dina Kyriakidou)

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