Disgraced former NY politician Eliot Spitzer in comeback

Eliot Spitzer and reporters
Image caption Eliot Spitzer was mobbed by reporters at his first public appearance in Union Square

Disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer has announced his intention to re-enter politics by running for New York City comptroller.

Known for his aggressive pursuit of Wall Street as New York attorney general, he resigned as governor in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal.

"I'm hopeful there will be forgiveness," said Mr Spitzer.

He needs to amass at least 3,750 signatures from voters by Thursday to be eligible for the race.

Lightning bolt

At his first public appearance following his announcement, Mr Spitzer was mobbed by reporters and hecklers.

Known for his moniker as the "sheriff of Wall Street", many in New York remembered either Mr Spitzer's high profile fights with corporate figures - or his well-covered fall from grace - and stopped to have a listen.

He told the BBC that while he had been considering running over the past couple months, the decision to enter the fray was made "in the past 48 hours."

Image caption David Schaller said he would vote for Mr Spitzer

I think it's a "very smart plan," said long time New York Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He said the surprise factor might help Mr Spitzer defeat Scott M. Stringer, a former city councilman who was considered the front runner.

"Never let your enemy know you're coming."

As Mr Spitzer spoke to reporters, volunteers carrying clipboards with green sign-up sheets fanned out around the busy Union Square area, asking residents to pledge their support to his campaign.

"I like Spitzer, when he was in office, he was doing the right thing," said David Schaller.

Mr Schaller later confessed he didn't know exactly what Mr Spitzer was running for, but that he planned to vote for him anyway.

"I think it's outrageous - a lot of people don't do their research, so a lot of people will vote because they know his name," Susan Derwin told the BBC.

Wall Street watchdog once more

The comptroller role is not necessarily known for its political power.

However, Mr Spitzer says that he plans to use the position to go after corporate greed once again.

Image caption Volunteers asked New Yorkers to sign a petition

"This is a great job that has untapped potential, just as I saw the attorney general's office and said we could do more. I think more can be done as city comptroller,'' said Mr Spitzer.

The comptroller controls the investment of many of New York City's pension funds, which makes it a large shareholder in companies from Citigroup to Wal-Mart.

Already, in an appearance on New York's public radio station WNYC, Mr Spitzer said one of his first targets as comptroller would be to examine Jamie Dimon's role as JP Morgan's chief executive and chairman.

Mr Spitzer does have precedent for his activist shareholder pursuits.

In April, John C. Lui, the city's current comptroller, filed a lawsuit against oil giant BP for $39m (£26m), saying BP "failed to disclose to shareowners the serious risks involved in its offshore drilling operation."

Some of the lawsuits that Mr Spitzer filed as attorney general are still working their way through the US justice system.

Just last month, former AIG chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg asked New York's highest court to through out the remnants of a case Mr Spitzer brought against him regarding an accounting scandal in 2005.

The case forced Mr Greenberg to resign his post as the head of AIG.