The ever-entertaining Eliot Spitzer is back. The former governor and attorney general of New York, who resigned in 2008 in the midst of a prostitution scandal, announced his plan to run for city comptroller this fall.
His re-entrance into political life comes with the assumption that voters will be as forgiving to him as they have been to his peers, former Representative Anthony Weiner and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. And if recent years are any indication, it seems like the New York electorate is pretty forgiving — especially in terms of sexual scandals.
The New York Times says Spitzer's return comes at a time when Americans "have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and that voters seem receptive to those who seek forgiveness and redemption."
And Spitzer has asked for forgiveness. He teared up during an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe Tuesday morning as he discussed the pain he endured during the last five years.
So the voting public is ready to forgive Spitzer for failing to control what he described as "urges, urges which should be tempered, controlled, modulated, held in check." But as Spitzer throws himself back into the public eye, he drags Ashley Dupré with him.
Dupré, the call girl formerly known as Kristen, was responsible for publicizing the scandal and is unlikely to receive the same kind of forgiveness as Spitzer. While Spitzer can use the publicity to his advantage, Dupré will no doubt be known once again as call girl Kristen.
Back in 2008, recently after the scandal, Dupré thrived in the limelight. She was featured in her own Playboy shoot, wrote a sex column for the New York Post, and owned a boutique in New Jersey selling swimwear and lingerie. But sexual capital seems to fade a lot quicker for women than it does for men. Dupré admitted she tired of giving sex advice after just a few weeks of her Post column.
Monica Lewinsky followed an almost identical path, launching a handbag line, starring in a reality TV show, and working with Jenny Craig. She has since left the country to avoid publicity. Just because she had sex with a powerful married man does not necessarily mean she is interested in or capable of monetizing her sexual identity.
Dupré is now engaged to asphalt king Thomas TJ Earle, and the couple had their first daughter in November 2013. Earle and Dupré met just a few months after the scandal while Earle was still married. The two began an intense fling that ended Earle's first marriage.
Dupré has declined to speak with the media since Spitzer announced his candidacy. A friend told New York Daily News, "She hates being in the limelight and all she wants to do is enjoy being a mom to her beautiful daughter."
But if Spitzer succeeds in running for city comptroller, it's unlikely that Dupré be able to just be a mom to her beautiful daughter. While Spitzer has the personal wealth and political savvy to use this scandal to his advantage, it threatens to define Dupré for better or for worse.