In what once seemed like a sure win, Spitzer begins to trail Stringer in tight comptroller race

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The race for City Comptroller is now too close to call with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer making up a lot of ground on former Governor Eliot Spritzer.

Early on, it looked like Spitzer would crush Stringer in the race. Now they appear to be locked in the tightest contest in next Tuesdays primary with the latest poll showing it too close to call. Stringer leads 47% to Spitzer’s 45% in the Quinnipiac poll.

So what’s at stake and what does the Comptroller actually do?  The Comptroller is the city’s Chief Financial Officer overseeing a staff of 700 people.  He is the watch dog over $140 billion dollars in pension money.  It’s a lot of cash and it represents pensions for the city’s 600,000 retired teachers, police officers, firefighters and other municipal employees.

The comptroller is also responsible for watching over all city agencies.  Both men in the race, Spitzer the so called “Sheriff of Wall Street” and Manhattan B.P. Stringer say they are up to the task. Stringer says he will audit every single agency and make sure he gets rid of waste. By law the Comptroller is required to audit some aspect of every city agency every four years.

The two men say they will protect pensions in different ways.  Sptizer says he’ll use the office to push corporate responsibility and to make sure the money is well invested.  Stringer is more focused on cutting costs including the fees paid to investment managers while preserving benefits.

Spitzer has the tough task of running after being forced to resign as governor in the midst of a prostitution scandal. He took the challenge head on in one of his first campaign ads when he said, “I failed. Big time.” He is running on his “Sheriff of Wall Street” reputation. He also faces questions about the status of his marriage.

With the race so close, we can expect both candidates to make a major push both directly and on television and radio over the next six days running up to the election.