2006 Newsmaker: Eliot Spitzer
By the time Eliot Spitzer was elected the 54th governor of New York on Nov. 7, 2006, the 47-year-old Bronx-born politician was being bandied about as potentially the first Jewish president of the United States. The praise may seem out of touch now, but at the time it was on point. Few politicians in New York have been able to instill as much hope in the future of the state as Spitzer – and his slick TV ads – were able to do in 2006.
Spitzer’s two terms as state attorney general had gained him the respect and admiration of those who felt that Wall Street was untouchable. His investigations and prosecution of the too-big-to-go-to-jail crowd earned him the moniker “The Sheriff of Wall Street.”
In short, he had positioned himself as a champion for the less fortunate and sold voters that he would be the same in the Executive Mansion.
His progressive campaign was more than just the usual parlance of promises of change. Spitzer picked Harlem state Sen. David Paterson as his running mate. The historical significance of choosing the first African-American as part of the top ticket in New York was embraced by communities of color throughout the state and made national news.
As the 2006 gubernatorial campaign progressed, it was clear that Spitzer wouldn’t be elected as much as annointed in November. And he was, defeating Republican John Faso 69 percent to 29.2 percent.
For everything stated and so much more left in the inkwell, Eliot Spitzer is City & State’s 2006 newsmaker of the year.
2006 Newsmaker, Runner-up: Andrew Cuomo
For the handful of people who know Andrew Cuomo well, it was just a matter of time before the promising son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo would rise from his embarrassing 2002 Democratic primary meltdown, when he commented on the leadership of then-Gov. George Pataki in the aftermath of 9/11:
“Pataki stood behind the leader. He held the leader's coat … he was not a leader. Cream rises to the top, and Rudy Giuliani rose to the top.”
The backlash put a temporary end to Cuomo’s political aspirations. But in 2006, there was an open seat for attorney general, and Cuomo saw that his path to get back in the game. Cuomo won a three-way primary race that included Mark Green and Charlie King – with King eventually bowing out and endorsing Cuomo. He easily defeated Republican candidate Jeanine Pirro in the November general election, with 58 percent of the vote.
And, all of a sudden, he was back on track for the executive mansion – a lot sooner than he probably expected.