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New York Awards 2002

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Eliot Spitzer, Public Service

The first time Eliot Spitzer ran for attorney general, in 1994, he finished fourth (out of, yep, four). Four years later, he won, defeating Republican incumbent Dennis Vacco by a mere 25,000 votes—“my great mandate,” he once joked. How things change. It may be an exaggeration to say that if you’ve heard of it, Spitzer did it. But it’s close enough to the truth so as to be a plausible exaggeration. The Merrill Lynch investigation. The Jack Grubman–Sandy Weill–92nd Street Y preschool thing. The less celebrated but no less important wage settlement for workers at Korean delis. In the process, Spitzer has cleared a path his party would do well to follow. While national Democrats employed end-of-days rhetoric to make corporate accountability a campaign issue and failed, Spitzer demonstrated that you win these fights with hard work, a zest for battle—and, most of all, with facts (and a great staff). Sure he gets headlines, but unlike a lot of people in public life, he does the work that earns them. What he gets is results. -- MICHAEL TOMASKY


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