ALBANY – A couple of weeks after losing the Working Families Party nomination to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Zephyr Teachout, a liberal activist and Fordham University law professor, said Friday she is seeking to run against Cuomo in a Democratic Party primary.
“I’m doing it because right now the system is rigged, and Cuomo is not going to fix it,” Teachout said in an interview. A registered Democrat, Teachout said she will formally announce her campaign Monday at the State Capitol.
For Cuomo, who can now spend millions of dollars he has raised for a potential primary, Teachout represents a challenge from the left of his party. Some in the party are angry over a number of policy and budget positions he has taken the past four years.
The race also presents some interesting twists for Erie County’s Kathleen C. Hochul, Cuomo’s running mate. In a primary, Teachout will face Cuomo on one ballot line while her running mate, Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor, will run on a separate ballot line against Hochul.
There are more than 700,000 Chinese Americans in the New York City metropolitan area alone. Democrats and Republicans on Friday evening were already saying Wu could pose a problem for Hochul’s lieutenant governor bid for several reasons, including his potential ability to draw Chinese American Democrats to his campaign and the prospects that turnout upstate in a Democratic primary in September is expected already to be low.
It is a scenario another Cuomo lived through. In 1982, Mario Cuomo, the current governor’s father, beat Ed Koch in the Democratic gubernatorial primary but had to run with Koch’s running mate, Al DelBello, in the general election after DelBello beat Cuomo’s running mate, Carl McCall. DelBello was cut out of any role in Cuomo’s first term and resigned from the job in 1985.
For all this to happen, Teachout first has to collect at least 15,000 valid signatures from enrolled Democrats across New York. The Cuomo campaign, or surrogates, can be all but certain to challenge the signatures as a way to try to halt the primary bid, and election lawyers say it could cost Teachout $100,000 in legal fees to run her signature-gathering process and defend her bid before a Cuomo challenge with the state elections board and, possible, the courts.
In the Working Families Party convention two weeks ago, Teachout received 41 percent of the delegates’ votes. Cuomo won by bowing to a number of the party’s demands, including agreeing to help oust Republicans from control of the State Senate.