On a recent afternoon in the heart of Chinatown here, Scott Stringer sat in a Greek diner talking about his dreams.
“I wanted to be a pro quarterback for the New York Jets,” Stringer, the doughy and bespectacled Manhattan borough president, said between appeals to a waitress for Sweet’n Low. “People don’t realize this, but I was a bruising kid. I wasn’t that big or that strong or that talented. But I got in the middle of things.”
Stringer is now in the middle of something he had hoped very much to avoid: a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, who is bringing a lot of money and attention to the usually sleepy city comptroller’s race.
Spitzer, the former New York attorney general who became nationally famous as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” for aggressive prosecutions of the rich and powerful, won the hearts of the media and the state’s voters on the way to a landslide victory in the race for governor in 2006. He began his stint in Albany by calling himself a “steamroller” who would crush all who stood in his way, and even enjoyed talk of becoming the first Jewish president. But less than a year later — a year filled with setbacks and spying controversies — he resigned in disgrace upon being caught in a prostitution scandal.