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Eliot Spitzer, who used a state office to become one of the most feared law enforcement officials in Wall Street history, announced his candidacy for New York governor on Tuesday.

Spitzer, 45 years old, will seek the Democratic nomination in the 2006 gubernatorial race, which coincides with the end of his second term as New York attorney general. The crusading prosecutor vowed to bring the same spirit to Albany that he showed rooting out scandal in the stock market.

"I bring people together whether they like it or not, and we tackle complex problems -- not with Band-Aid solutions, but with major reform and real change," Spitzer said in a statement. "We did it in the financial industry and other sectors, and we can do it in government."

Spitzer has become one of the best-known politicians in New York for his role in uncovering three major business scandals: faulty stock research by securities firms, trading abuses in mutual fund shares, and kickback arrangements in the insurance industry.

The third continues to make headlines, recently resulting in a board shakeup at

Marsh & McClennan

(MMC) - Get Free Report

, which Spitzer has alleged rigged bids in selling insurance coverage through its brokerage unit.

In each case, Spitzer used popular outrage over shady industry practices to force offenders into highly publicized and expensive legal settlements. In both the research and mutual fund scandals, companies paid fines totaling well over $1 billion to settle.

Critics have contended that Spitzer has been too conscious of his public personna and say his preference for checkbook justice does little to deter future bad acts in the securities industry.

Spitzer is likely to face incumbent New York Gov. George Pataki, who has yet to disclose formally his intentions for 2006 but is widely expected to seek re-election.