This is very dangerous territory for Cuomo

Zephyr Teachout must be much on Andrew Cuomo’s mind. The left-of-center Fordham University law professor collected over 45,000 signatures to get her on the September Democratic primary ballot. On the face of it, Andrew has nothing to worry about. Recent polls show that most New Yorkers have no idea who Teachout is. The same polls show that Cuomo retains most of his massive popularity. If all of that isn’t enough, there is a Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, who will certainly split the progressive vote. So why is Andrew trying to get Teachout thrown off the Democratic ballot? Theoretically, all he has to do is to stay shut and win but Cuomo is clearly scared and here’s why.

Cuomo had the scare of his political life when he almost lost the designation of the progressive Working Families Party to Teachout. Only the intervention of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio saved his skin. In order to convince the progressive crowd that he was with them, Cuomo had to promise to use his influence to get the outlaw Democrats who sold out to the Republicans — the Independent Democratic Conference — back where they belonged with the real Democrats.

Teachout is beloved among the more progressive folks in New York who think that Cuomo is too far to the right, too much of a budget cutter and too cheap on educational spending, among other gripes. Knowing that in a primary among New York Democrats, the most politically active turn out, Cuomo has hired Martin Connor, the best election lawyer in New York, to try to get Teachout thrown off the ballot. Because so few people vote in primaries, Cuomo knows that the Teachout people will show up. She won’t win but she could hurt his political reputation.

We hear that Cuomo’s excuse for trying to throw Teachout off the ballot is that she isn’t a New York state resident because, among other small things, she contributed to an Obama campaign from her mom’s Vermont address despite her years of teaching at Fordham University.

This is very dangerous territory for Cuomo. He knows how important the women’s vote is, and by seeming to bully Teachout, he risks alienating some female voters. Teachout has been quick to seize on this as an issue to be raised with women. I suspect Cuomo will say something like, “The law is the law and the same for everyone.”

Of course, this will end up in the courts. I suspect that the state’s Board of Elections will think twice about further embarrassing themselves and identifying themselves as part of the political power elite. The Board of Elections has already placed Teachout above Cuomo on the Democratic ballot. That’s got to have Andrew half crazy. Cuomo has a reputation as a guy who likes to have his own way and doesn’t like it when people defy him. Teachout seems absolutely unafraid of Cuomo. She provokes him everywhere she goes. She needles him, calls him names, and suggests again and again that the big corporate players who want something from Andrew are filling his coffers with obscene amounts of campaign cash in order to get things back from government. She’s right about that, of course.

When she came to my public radio studios for her interview, she was followed by a camera and a crew suggesting that sooner or later, win or lose, we are going to see a documentary entitled something like “Zephyr, the Movie.”

Teachout must know that she can’t win. She has limited amounts of campaign cash but she has a brilliant legal mind. Cuomo made a bad move in trying to remove her from the ballot — it suggests some fear on his part. He should have just left her alone.

Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 8/11/14

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: