The scandal-scarred former New York governor and Stringer took off the gloves for the first debate in a very tight race.
"This is about my record as an independent voice for the public," Spitzer said when pressed by Dave Evans about why he was running for citywide office after serving as New York attorney general and governor.
Stringer fired back that "you don't get promoted to another job" after failing at the last one. Spitzer resigned as governor amid a 2008 prostitution scandal.
Spitzer admitted he made mistakes, but added that he believes he has made a difference and attacked Stringer, asking where he was while he was battling Wall Street.
"The comptroller has to be a steward, not a sheriff," Stringer said. "I will be an honest steward of our economic situation."
The pair sparred over who would be better to oversee the city's finances.
Spitzer said he ran the best Attorney General's office in the country, while Stringer was part of a dysfunctional and failed Assembly.
"You broke your own eggs because you engaged in illegal, illicit activity," Stringer shot back, adding that Spitzer has been on the sidelines for the last five years.
Stringer said Spitzer "resigned in disgrace" amid a prostitution scandal and presided over "lots of failure" as governor because of his go-it-alone style.
Spitzer asked Stringer "what indelible mark" he's left on policy after 20 years as borough president and a state assemblyman. Spitzer said he made a bigger difference in far less time.
The Democratic primary is Sept. 10. The winner can expect to face Republican and other candidates in November.
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