Hillary Holds Off on Endorsement for Lefty Star Spitzer

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) had nothing but nice things to say Wednesday about New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer, who announced he was running for governor in 2006. But when asked by HUMAN EVENTS if she was endorsing his candidacy, Clinton chose not to commit herself.

“I’m a big fan of Eliot Spitzer’s,” she told HUMAN EVENTS after casting her vote in favor of the intelligence bill. “He has done a superb job as our attorney general and I think he would be a terrific governor, so we’ll wait and see how it all develops.”

Earlier Wednesday, at a joint appearance in Rochester, N.Y., Clinton also declined the invitation to make an endorsement, suggesting it was too soon to be taking sides for an election that is still two years away.

By taking the wait-and-see approach, Clinton has chosen to leave open the possibility that New York’s Democratic Party could face the same kind of divisive fight that took place in 2002 when former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo challenged the party’s establishment candidate, then-Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

The business-busting Spitzer, who made a name for himself by suing Wall Street firms, entered the gubernatorial race much like McCall did in 2002 with the backing of state lawmakers. Spitzer has secured the support of state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr., chairman of the state Democratic Party.

But the chances of Spitzer facing a battle with a Cuomo-like candidate appear remote given his fund-raising prowess and the fact he has already secured the endorsement of former Democrat Gov. Mario Cuomo, father of Andrew.

No major GOP candidate has signaled an intention to run, including incumbent Gov. George Pataki, a three-term Republican, who might opt for a run against Clinton for the Senate in 2006 or seek the presidency in 2008.

Possible Republican candidates include outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, who grew up in New York, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But there could also be a candidate like Pataki, who was a little-known state senator when he beat Cuomo, a three-term incumbent, in 1994.