Comptroller Candidates Are In, and Spitzer's Pal Is Top Contender

Noon today was the deadline for state-comptroller candidates to file their papers, and so far there are nineteen contenders. (This being Albany, rules are merely a suggestion: There are several back-channel ways candidates who didn’t file today could still emerge.) The list is deep in talent — city finance commissioner Martha Stark, private money manager Alphonse Fletcher, Long Island eminence Jim Larocca, and Westchester assemblyman Richard Brodsky are only a few of the contenders who would do the job well — but the inclusion of one name instantly produces a front-runner and makes the race more intriguing: Bill Mulrow, the director of CitiGroup’s Global Capital Markets. Mulrow both takes the lead and stirs the pot for the same reason: He's very close to Governor Eliot Spitzer. Mulrow will be criticized for his role at the company that’s the leading bidder to take over New York’s horse-racing industry, and Spitzer will be criticized as an ethical hypocrite for encouraging the candidacy of a big-money pal. But given Spitzer’s momentum and luck so far, the guv’s friendship with Mulrow is likely to be a net positive — and the single biggest thing that breaks Mulrow out of a crowded field. —Chris Smith