He’s ba-ack! Eliot Spitzer told The New York Times during a telephone interview Sunday night that he was running for New York City comptroller, marking his first bid for political office since he resigned in disgrace amid a prostitution scandal five years ago.

In announcing his intention, the former New York governor, a Democrat, says he’s hoping voters will overlook his past transgressions. “I’m hopeful there will be forgiveness. I am asking for it,” he said.

As The New York Times noted: “His re-entry comes in an era when politicians — like Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina and the New York mayoral contender Anthony D. Weiner — have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and voters seem open to those who seek forgiveness and redemption.”

Another one to add to that list is Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana who was also caught in–and survived–his own prostitution scandal. Not only did Vitter not resign after it was revealed he had solicited prostitutes and his phone number was listed in the records of the so-called D.C. Madam, he also won his re-election race in 2010.

Scandal aside, Spitzer must first collect 3,750 signatures from registered voters by Thursday in order to qualify for the primary ballot in September. “I am going to be on the street corners,” Spitzer promised. “We will be out across the city.”

The New York Times:

Mr. Spitzer, an aggressive watchdog over Wall Street when he served as attorney general of New York, said he wanted to transform the comptroller’s office into a robust agency that would not merely monitor and account for city spending, as it does now, but conduct regular inquiries into the effectiveness of government policies, in areas like education.

Such a reading of the office, which would significantly expand its scope, could put Mr. Spitzer into conflict with the city’s next mayor, much as his reign as attorney general put him at odds with federal regulators of Wall Street.

“The metaphor is what I did with the attorney general’s office,” he said on Sunday night. “It is ripe for greater and more exciting use of the office’s jurisdiction.”

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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