NEW YORK — Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer jumped back into the world of politics Monday with his decision to run for the New York City comptroller’s office, years after he was caught in a prostitution scandal that culminated in one of politics’ steepest falls from power.
His first public campaign appearance turned into a chaotic scrum of scores of journalists outside a Manhattan subway station, with a heckler and some Spitzer supporters trading shouts as the candidate spoke about his record in office.
He declined to talk specifically about the scandal.
‘‘What I’m looking for is a chance to be heard. I want the voters to listen to what I’ve done, look at the record that I developed as attorney general, as an assistant district attorney, as governor, and say, ‘This guy understood the public interest,’ ’’ Spitzer said.
‘‘People have forgiveness in their hearts. Whether that forgiveness extends to me’’ remains to be seen, he acknowledged before collecting several petition signatures from voters as reporters trailed him through a park and to a taxi.
Returning to public service after more than five years in the political wilderness was difficult for Spitzer, who never hid from the spotlight and even joked about his mistakes on camera and at political events.
His wife, Silda, who had stood looking stunned at Spitzer’s side during his resignation speech, also returned to life in the public eye. She began attending charity fund-raisers months after the scandal.
Spitzer’s timing alone presents a challenge. Candidates for citywide offices like comptroller need 3,750 signatures from registered voters in their party by Thursday.
Spitzer has spoken in the past about the potential for the comptroller’s job to look into corporate misdeeds. Since his resignation, the married father of three has returned to public life as a news commentator.
He said he had discussed his potential run with his wife and daughters before deciding over the weekend.