Joe Bruno's Spitzer Peace Plan

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Bruno and Spitzer in June. Photo: AP

Eliot Spitzer's epic feud with Joe Bruno has been lots of fun for headline writers and politics watchers, if perhaps not so good for Albany's effective functioning. But here's a funny thing: As Steve Fishman reports in this week's cover story, their big fight didn't even have to happen. In the last days of the legislative session, about a month ago, Bruno approached Spitzer with the idea of a non-aggression pact: He'd support the governor's cherished campaign-finance proposal if the governor would agree not to campaign against Senate Republicans. The plan to reduce the money flowing into state politics is “Spitzer’s obsession,” Bruno told Fishman, but the Republican leader wouldn't disarm in the face of a wealthy, powerful governor determined to break the GOP's hold on the Senate. Under Bruno's deal, Spitzer would get the campaign-finance reform he wanted, Bruno would get protection, and both would be able to move forward on four or five pieces of legislation caught in the crossfire. But Spitzer would agree merely to congratulate the Republicans if they helped push his agenda. “That’s not good enough,” Bruno told him, according to Fishman's source. And a few days later they were at war.

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