Does Anthony Weiner’s Latest Screwup Help or Hurt Eliot Spitzer? [Updated]

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Spitzer doing that weird smile he does. Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Yesterday, Anthony Weiner found himself once again apologizing for yet another very dirty online relationship with another very young woman, and admitting that he had continued his internet dalliances as recently as last summer. Eliot Spitzer may not be directly entangled in this sordid saga in any way, but it seems likely that he'll be affected by it. Since Spitzer entered the comptroller's race earlier this month, he and Weiner have been grouped together to some degree or another, in the media (ahem) and in the popular consciousness, and reasonably so: Despite their differences, they're both Democratic politicians who resigned in disgrace over embarrassing revelations about their private sexual lives, and who have both decided to attempt a comeback in New York City's 2013 election. 

Exactly how the latest Weiner scandal may color how voters view Spitzer isn't clear, however. On the one hand, you could make the argument that Spitzer now looks practically saintly by comparison. While Weiner continued to send graphic messages and photos to women who were not his wife long after he resigned from Congress, there is no evidence and no indication that Spitzer ever saw another prostitute after he stepped down as governor. Unlike Weiner, he is truly a reformed man, and no longer deserves to be lumped in with a guy who is clearly some kind of cock-shot addict. 

However, it's also possible that doubts about Weiner and concerns about the persistence of his skeletons could spill over to Spitzer. After all, prior to Monday night, when The Dirty posted its story, nobody thought that Weiner had continued sending out photos of his penis long after he resigned from Congress. The public believed that Weiner had fully repented, come clean. If Weiner still has secrets we didn't know about, why couldn't Spitzer? Perhaps neither man can be trusted. 

To prevent the latter scenario from taking hold, Spitzer's task now is to continue to create space between himself and Weiner in the minds of voters — an effort which began at the very start of his campaign when he denied that the success of Weiner's redemptive campaign had any bearing on his decision to run. But what can Spitzer do, really, to reassure voters that he's not like Weiner? What good are his words when Weiner's words turned out to be so empty? Certainly, if there was ever a time for Spitzer to trot out Silda as a character witness — as someone who could personally vouch for how much he's truly changed — this would be it. 

Update, 12:34 p.m.: Spitzer reiterated today that he hasn't been with a prostitute since his resignation:

“Absolutely not,” Mr. Spitzer said when asked at a campaign stop at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal Wednesday if he had been with prostitutes after his resignation as governor of New York. “And we’re done answering those questions.”