Republican strategist E. O'Brien Murray tells Newsmax he is seeking to knock disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer off the ballot in his run for city comptroller in New York, accusing Spitzer of "lies and deceit" in the petition process.
Murray helped elect Republican Bob Turner to Congress in the seat formerly held by another disgraced politician, Anthony Weiner, in a 2011 special election, and was named Campaign Manager of the Year by the American Association of Political Consultants.
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He filed an official challenge to Spitzer's petitions on Monday. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York City 7-to-1. But Murray insists GOP candidate John Burnett, an African-American Wall Street executive, can win the comptroller seat in the Big Apple.
Democrat Spitzer served as the 54th governor of New York state from January 2007 until his resignation on March 17, 2008, following revelations about his involvement as a regular client of an escort agency. But he reportedly collected 27,000 signatures in four days after announcing his comptroller candidacy.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Tuesday, Murray says: "Simply put, Elliot Spitzer is trying to re-enter politics the same way he left it, full of lies and deceit, and he may even be committing fraud and other illegal activities to get on the ballot" — a charge he originally put forth to The New York Post.
"The New York petition process is a very tedious one, a lot of requirements. He got it done in four days. There are questions about whether or not he was inducing people to sign by having a party and saying, if you sign you come to the party.
"The petitions themselves are rife with errors. Some of the corrections they made were initialed, other ones were not. The question for the attorneys to look at is, is that legal?"
A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that, despite Spitzer’s scandalous past, he has a firm lead in the Democratic primary — 48 percent of registered Democratic voters said they’d vote for him. His camp says they’re not worried about getting knocked off the ballot.
But Murray cautions: "In this process anything can happen, and at the end of the day the courts will have to decide this one, much like they have in the past."
Discussing how his objection will proceed, Murray says: "The first thing you have to do is go through the petitions line by line to make sure that registered Democrats signed his petition. You look for any changes that were made that may disqualify pages because if they were done incorrectly, none of them would count.
"So it's a pretty painstaking and detailed process. This is a question for the courts."
Some have speculated that Spitzer’s comptroller bid could drag down Anthony Weiner’s mayoral prospects. Murray comments: "It's interesting how the two get linked together. Bob Turner actually won the seat formerly held by Anthony Weiner, so I'm pretty familiar with Anthony Weiner's former constituents in that part of the city in Brooklyn and Queens, and Anthony stands on his own for the most part.
"There are going to be some voters that say, ‘Hey, how much is too much? We don't need to be the laughingstock of the country at this point, of the world. Imagine Anthony Weiner and Elliot Spitzer at Times Square on New Year's Eve. I thought we cleaned up that place."
Murray believes Burnett can persuade the GOP to get involved from the start. "John Burnett has been making great inroads in the Republican Party. He's a first-time candidate. And he's out there bringing in people to the Republican Party that aren’t usually with us from the beginning, which is terrific.
"But the other part of this is, really, the Democrats haven’t won City Hall for 20 years, between Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani. So a Republican can win citywide. Usually, what happens is the down-ticket races don’t have a lot of attention so people just vote straight party. In this case, with Elliot Spitzer on the ballot, it's going to bring a lot of attention to this race, which means John Burnett can start raising more money, become more visible.
"People will say, wait a second, do I want Elliot or not? Usually, they just vote Democrat because they don’t really care. It's definitely something that can be won by Republicans."
Both Spitzer and Weiner are doing well in the polls. Murray was asked what this tells us about politics.
"We could look across the country, too. These guys are all looking at [Congressman and former Gov.] Mark Sanford and what happened in South Carolina, as well. And what really has happened is these scandals have increased the name ID they had.
"So it's not that sex sells, it's the name ID, and you can't beat somebody with nobody. Mark Sanford had a runoff two weeks after his Republican primary and the person that he ran against had no opportunity to organize within two weeks and had no money. Elliot Spitzer got in this race with four days to go for petitions. He's going against a single Democrat, Scott Stringer, who is New York County [Manhattan] president, but outside of Manhattan, they don’t know who he is.
"So Spitzer, with his millions of dollars, is able to go out there and basically buy an election. I don’t think it's the question of sex selling or the scandal doing it, but each of these men, in their various races, has found a way to use their weakness for their benefit."
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