Opinion polls suggest her chances of winning are slim, but Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor is determinedly widening her opportunities, making a series of vital public appearances before the September 9 Democratic Primary where she is challenging incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, to become the Governor of New York.
On Wednesday, Teachout made an appearance at the summer meeting of The New Kings Democrats, a political club created to bring transparency and accountability to the Kings County Democratic Party.
Sharing the stage with Teachout was Kathleen Hochul, Cuomo’s choice as running mate for the position of Lieutenant Governor.
Hochul, whom many in the press had criticized for shying away from the media since the announcement of her candidacy in May, was the first to take the podium.
She stressed her credentials as a grassroots community activist – campaigning against giant corporations like Walmart, which was threatening to shutdown local business; her work as the County Clerk from Erie County between 2007-2011, and her brief tenure as a U.S. Representative from the state’s 26th Congressional District, a majority Republican-populated tract, and which had not had a Democratic candidate elected in over 40 years when she won the seat.
“I love seeing participation from young people in the political process,” she said to those present at Wednesday meeting. “It is so important to be engaged you need to be involved in selecting the people who are going to lead this country.”
However several issues she stressed – such as the passing of the DREAM Act, and a women equality bill, are promises her running mate, Cuomo, has so far failed to deliver on during his tenure.
Hochul posed for a brief handshake with Teachout before exiting the room, followed by the media, desperate to get a word from her.
“There is so much power in this room,” said Teachout as she took her turn to address the crowd. “You have just seen it. You have brought out the hiding Kathy Hochul to answer your questions, you should be proud of that, that is because you have so much power.”
Accountability is what Teachout fought for even before she decided to run for Governor. And fighting corruption has always been one of her rallying cries.
She was the first president of the Sunlight Foundation, a national non-profit promoting transparency and accountability in the United States Congress, and she helped found A New Way Forward, an organization dedicated to breaking up the power of the big banks.
Her campaign for governor, which was seen as a long shot by many, received its biggest boost perhaps when a New York Times expose detailed corruption within the Moreland Commission, an organization created to putting an end to the insidious corrupt practices in Albany politics.
Empowered, Teachout is forging ahead, despite legal proceedings commenced against her by Cuomo’s office challenging her residency requirement in the State of New York, a step she has called, “frivolous,” and “a fishing expedition,” and which a judge quickly quashed on Monday.
Instead she is campaigning aggressively about supporting small businesses, improving transportation and infrastructure, and increasing taxes on the rich.
“I believe in the fair elections that he [Cuomo] stood for four years ago because I think a secretary without rich friends should be able to run for office, I think a special-ed teacher’s aide should be allowed to run for office, I think a bus driver and a truck driver should be able to run for office and they should not have to go and beg at the feet of oligarchs to be a political person in this state.”