NY-19: Teachout Challenges Faso’s Donors To A Debate

Often a candidate will challenge their opponent to debating their policy differences, but Democrat Zephyr Teachout has a different angle: She wants to debate the donors supporting Republican John Faso.

Even if the challenge goes unaccepted, it’s a way of drawing attention to those who are funding a super PAC that has supported Faso, namely billionaires Paul Singer and Robert Mercer.

Both men — who have drawn the ire of liberals for their support of conservative causes and candidates — have contributed a combined $1 million to the New York Wins PAC.

“The voters deserve to hear directly from the billionaires backing John Faso about what they expect to get from him in Congress,” Teachout said in a statement. “When someone writes a $500,000 check they don’t do it out of the goodness of their heart. These are people probably trying to buy power, and voters should know who they are and what they stand for. I’m challenging Paul Singer and Robert Mercer to put your mouth where your money is and debate me directly, not through your mouthpiece.”

Teachout herself has rejected super PAC spending in support of her own campaign.

A key policy issue for Teachout has been overhauling campaign finance laws both on the state and national level, having written and studied on the topic as a Fordham Law School professor.

Both Teachout and Faso are competing for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson this year.

NY-19: Astorino Fundraises For Faso

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Thursday sent a fundraising email asking donors to back Republican John Faso in the race for the 19th congressional district.

“I’m going all in for John Faso’s vision of America,” Astorino writes. “It’s the future that overtaxed and underemployed New Yorkers desperately need.”

In the email, Astorino paints Teachout as a far-left candidate who wants to raise taxes and backed the nuclear arms control agreement with Iran.

“John Faso believes that Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo are liberals. Prof. Teachout thinks they’re right wingers,” Astorino writes in the email.

“John Faso is an ardent supporter of Israel who believes in tough, anti-terrorism policies. Prof. Teachout supported President Obama’s unconscionable deal with Iran’s mullahs that will give the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism nuclear weapons inside of 10 years. Faso opposed Obamacare. Teachout supported it. Teachout wants taxpayer money to fund political campaigns. John Faso will fight to stop welfare for politicians.”

Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee for governor, is considering another statewide campaign in 2018. He nearly faced a challenge for the nomination from Rep. Chris Gibson, who is retiring from the 19th congressional district this year, with both Faso and Teachout vying to replace him in the Hudson Valley seat.

Astorino in the past has actually appeared alongside Teachout during the 2014 campaign when she was running against Cuomo for the Democratic primary, including a September debate ahead of the primary that year. At the time, both were slamming Cuomo for his decision to shutter the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, common ground for both candidates opposing the governor.

NY-19: Faso Knocks Teachout’s Support From ‘Commies’

Red alert!

Republican John Faso’s congressional campaign on Tuesday knocked Democrat Zephyr Teachout for receiving a “rave review” from a website that traces its lineage back to The Daily Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party.

“Zephyr Teachout wins the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District, she will do more than add a seat to the Democratic column,” the article posted to peoplesworld.org states. “She will help bring Bernie Sander’s political revolution to the House.”

In a statement, Faso’s camapign writes in all-caps headline: “Commies backing Teachout in carpetbag run for Congress.”

“It’s no surprise that the Communist Party newspaper would be one-hundred-percent behind this hard left-wing academic,” said Faso campaign manager Dain Pascocello. “They nor she have any connection to the 19th district; this all about getting one of their ideological ilk to a microphone in Washington via any available route. The families of the 19th congressional district have zero to do with their plans.”

Teachout, a Fordham Law school professor, was a staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders’s presidential primary bid against Hillary Clinton, and she was among a handful of Democratic House contenders the Vermont senator endorsed.

Both Faso and Teachout are competing for the Hudson Valley congressional seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. The Faso campaign has sought to ding Teachout calling her “professor” in press releases; Gibson is retiring from Congress to take a job teaching at Williams College.

NY-19: Faso Campaign Needles Teachout For Cuomo Nod

The campaign of Republican John Faso on Thursday opened a new line of attack on Democrat Zephyr Teachout, accusing her of having “dived headfirst into the transactional” politics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.

To be sure, the endorsement Teachout received from Cuomo in the Bronx on Wednesday was less-than-enthusiastic, with the governor not mentioning his former primary rival by name when asked if he would back her bid for the 19th congressional district.

Teachout, too, downplayed the significance of the governor’s endorsement in a Capital Tonight interview later in the day.

Nevertheless, the Faso campaign seized on the nod as a sign “Professor” Teachout is selling out. In a statement, the Faso campaign refers to Teachout as “professor” no fewer than eight times (Teachout is a Fordham Law school professor; Faso is widely considered to be an expert on public budgets and financing, making the academic attack on his opponent a bit ironic).

“Professor Zephyr Teachout got herself famous in left-wing circles by calling out Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton as corrupt shills for monied interests in Albany and Washington and on Wall Street, and now she’s hitched up with both of them because it’s politically advantageous to her,” said Faso spokesman Dain Pascocello in a statement.

“This shouldn’t come as a great surprise when you consider that Professor Teachout has a habit of relocating to wherever there’s an office to run for, but for those who genuinely believed what she said about Cuomo and Clinton this has to be dismaying. In joining the Cuomo and Clinton fold, Professor Teachout is demonstrating the very type of self-interest that she railed against to make a name for herself in her adopted state.”

The attack is a standard one, especially given that it seeks to go to the heart of contradicting Teachout’s main appeals as a candidate from outside the political establishment.

Teachout unsuccessfully ran against Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014, but did better than expected given her comparably low name recognition. In the presidential primary, Teachout backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

NY-19: Cuomo Endorses The ‘Democratic Nominee’

He didn’t say her name, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday told reporters in the Bronx he would back Zephyr Teachout in the 19th congressional district race.

“I’ll support the Democratic nominee for Congress in that district,” Cuomo said when asked if he would endorse Teachout’s congressional bid. “The short answer is yes.”

Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor, two years ago sought the endorsement from the labor-aligned Working Families Party to run for governor. Thwarted at the party’s convention, Teachout mounted an unlikely bid for the Democratic nomination against Cuomo, electrifying liberal critics of the governor along the way.

During the primary, Teachout staunchly criticized Cuomo for what she considers to be a troubled brand of transactional politics. After a New York Times story detailed the governor’s office’s involvement in the Moreland Commission, Teachout called on Cuomo to resign from office.

Cuomo went to lengths to avoid being seen with Teachout, including an incident at a Labor Day parade in which former aide Joe Percoco blocked her from talking with the governor.

This year she is seeking the Hudson Valley House district being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, facing former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

Cuomo didn’t endorse any Democrats running in contested congressional primaries last month.

Faso: Teachout A ‘Leftist Elitist’

As mentioned in an earlier post, congressional candidates who made it successfully through the primaries this past Tuesday wasted no time in turning their attention to their respective general election opponents.

In the case of the NY-19 primary winners – Democrat Zephyr Teachout and Republican John Faso – the verbal barbs started flying just hours after the polls closed and both defeated their opponents by wide margins.

Teachout and Faso sniped at one another in their victory speeches, with him noting right off the bat that he and his wife have lived in the district for decades, (unlike Teachout, who is a recent transplant), and her deeming him an Albany insider beholden to rich special interests who contributed to his campaign.

Today, the candidates are at it again, with Faso’s campaign manager Dain Pascocello releasing a lengthy “state of the race” memo, in which he paints Teachout as an inexperienced and out-of-touch liberal elitist.

“Professor Teachout has a radical ‘progressive’ agenda that has nothing in common with the values of the 19th Congressional District,” Pascocello wrote. “She is simply looking for a perch to launch a national crusade for taxpayer-subsidized elections and other left-wing causes.”

“In fact, she’s already called for higher taxes on individuals and small businesses; she supports an energy plan that would increase our electricity costs; she promises a single-payer health care system that would further destroy our health care and economy; and she wants to force federal gun restrictions that would take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“In short, Professor Teachout is a leftist elitist who thinks she knows better than we do.”

Pascocello also reiterates the “carpetbagger” criticism, lumping Teachout in with retiring Rep. Chris Gibson’s 2014 Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge, who purchased an expensive home in the district with his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and then spent the bulk of his unsuccessful (and poorly run) campaign fending off accusations that he was trying to buy his way into Congress.

Teachout, meanwhile, sent out a fundraising email today that landed in my inbox only minutes after Faso’s memo, asking donors to help shore up her finances to prepare for what she expects will be a hard fought = and nasty – general election race.

” We have to be ready for my opponent John Faso, a lobbyist, to run a very negative campaign, and for his SuperPACs to throw everything AND the kitchen sink at me,” Teachout wrote. ” believe that the future of our country lies in our people, not in big money donors and lobbyists who seek to divide us for their profit. I believe in the great American spirit of democracy, where every person’s voice matters, not just that of billionaires.”

“So we are building from anger to hope, from community to isolation. We are building a strong, broad, resilient, spirited and grounded grassroots fighting force, ready for anything that John Faso’s SuperPACs throw our way!”

This race promises to be one of the most hotly contested in the state this fall. Unlike Gibson, who has gone to great lengths to portray himself as a political pragmatist, both Teachout and Faso are strongly associated with the left of center and right of center, respectively, which could make it difficult for them to appear to a key voting bloc: independents.

Contours Emerge In NY-19

The ink is barely dry on the Tuesday night primary victories of Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout, but both sides are already trying to define the candidates in what will be a marquee congressional race this year.

In the moments after Faso declared victory over Andrew Heaney, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unloaded its opposition research file in an email to reporters.

D-trip in particular outlined a case against Faso that includes his record on women’s issues (“Faso has aligned himself with the far-right wing of his Republican Party, which has consistently failed women and their families,” the committee wrote in its email), being an “Albany insider” and coming from the “Party of Trump” (In both style and substance, Faso is a far cry from being a Donald Trump Republican).

“John Faso is headed for another loss in this swing district because of his out-of-touch conservative record, scandal-ridden history, and the reality that he is sharing the ticket with Donald Trump,” the DCCC concluded.

That’s not to say Republicans won’t find a way to knock Teachout, a left-leaning Fordham Law School professor who moved to the district to run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson. Republicans are already likening the race to the contest between Gibson and Sean Eldridge in 2014, who moved to the Hudson Valley to unsuccessfully run for the district.

The Republican Congressional Leadership Fund in an email this morning called the race “A déjà vu nightmare for Dems?”

“New Yorkers didn’t fall for Democrats’ first carpetbagger; they won’t fall for the second,” the group wrote.

Still, like Faso is not Trump, Teachout is not like Eldridge: She already has a large and loyal liberal following after he run for governor two years ago and has sought to tap into the enthusiasm generated by Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.

But at the same time, Teachout is being criticized for muddled answers on the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel as well as the SAFE Act.

“Zephry Teachout may have flip-flopped her way to victory in a Democrat primary,” said Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra, “but that will not fly in a general election.”

NY-19: Heaney Campaign Wants Investigation Over Columbia County Ballots

The congressional campaign of Republican Andrew Heaney on Tuesday cried foul after ballots in Columbia County included the name of a third candidate who dropped out of the race nearly two months ago.

The ballots incorrectly included the name of Robert Bishop, who exited the race seven weeks ago and endorsed Heaney rival John Faso, a former Assembly minority leader.

For Heaney’s campaign, the problem is this: Voting for Bishop could have been an alternative to voting for Faso rather than picking Heaney, a businessman and first-time candidate.

“It’s a disgrace that with only one race on the entire ballot, the Columbia County Board of Elections has so grossly failed the voters,” Heaney said in a statement. “Every vote matters.”

His campaign is calling for the state Board of Elections to investigate the Columbia County board to determine whether the inclusion of Bishop’s name was either “gross incompetence or systematic fraud.”

For Faso’s part, his campaign released a by-the-numbers statement describing what will happen to the ballots featuring Bishop’s name in Columbia County.

Because they could not be counted by the optical scanning machines, Republican voters in the primary are being instructed to place their ballots in a separate slot on the machine for provisional ballots.

Replacement ballots were expected to be delivered to Columbia County polling locations by 4 p.m.

“We encourage all Republican voters to go to the polls and cast their ballots in the GOP primary,” said Dain Pascocello, a spokesman for the Faso campaign. “Polls are open until 9 PM.”

NY-19: Teachout Endorsed By Sierra Club

Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout on Friday was endorsed by the environmental group Sierra Club ahead of the Tuesday primary.

“New Yorkers can clearly see that Washington is broken, and right now we need someone who is willing to stand up to corporate money and toxic polluters to say enough is enough,” said Erin Riddle, who chairs the organization’s Atlantic Chapter.

“Zephyr’s commitment to our environment, public health, and democracy make her an ideal choice, and that’s why the Sierra Club is proud to endorse her for Congress.”

Teachout is running for the Democratic nomination in the 19th congressional district, a Hudson Valley seat that is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.

She faces Will Yandik, a deputy town supervisor in Livingstone, on Tuesday in a primary.

“I’m thrilled to have the support of the Sierra Club. After the historic victory to ban fracking in New York, I know we can take the fight to Washington and win,” Teachout said.

“Together we can stand up to the corporate lobbyists who want to pollute our resources, contaminate our water, and make a profit off our land. Organized people is the best defense against organized money.”

A poll released by TWC News/Siena College showing Teachout leading Yandik in the primary race by double digits.

NY-19: NRCC Knocks Teachout’s BDS Answer

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday criticized an answer given by Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout in a TWC News debate last week in which she sidestepped a question related to the effort to curtail the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who Teachout challenged in a Democratic primary in 2014 — earlier this month announced the state would no longer do business with entities that are involved in the campaign, known as the BDS movement.

During the lightning round portion of the debate between Teachout and her Democratic challenger Will Yandik, she demurred when asked about Cuomo’s executive action.

“I’m running for Congress,” she said in response.

The BDS movement does have sympathies on the political left, and Cuomo’s office was protested over the move during the end of the legislative session.

In a statement, NRCC spokesman Chris Pack blasted Teachout for not taking a position.

“It is shameful that Zephyr Teachout refuses to say whether she supports an effort to destroy the Israeli economy in the name of Palestine,” he said. “Zephyr Teachout lacking the courage to take positions on issues important to Hudson Valley voters is proof she is nothing more than a calculating, self-serving politician.”

Teachout and Yandik are competing next week for the Democratic nomination in the Hudson Valley district, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.

The full debate with TWC News can be seen here.