Zephyr Teachout

NY Bernie Backers Stick With Teachout

The New York-based organization People for Bernie has continued its track record of backing Fordham Law School Prof. Zephyr Teachout, announcing over th weekend its endorsement of her state attorney general bid.

The co-founders of The People for Bernie – Kat Brezler Charles Lenchner Winnie Wong and Moumita Ahmed – worked on Zephyr’s unsuccessful gubernatorial run in 2014, in which she turned in a stronger-than-expected performance against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

The organization also backed Teachout in 2016, when she ran unsuccessfully for an open House seat, (vacated by former Republican Rep. Chris Gibson), against Republican John Faso. Sanders himself endorsed and campaigned with Teachout in that campaign, but she lost the general election to Faso in November.

“Zephyr Teachout literally wrote the book about corruption,” Brezler said. “We need her tenacity to fight back against corporate power.”

In true Sanders style, People for Bernie announced its support of Teachout in a tweet, saying it will focus on helping her petition her way onto the ballot after she failed to make the cut at the state Democratic Party convention in May.

NYC Public Advocate Tish James, who is supported by Cuomo, was selected by the party rank-and-file at the convention to be the official Democratic nominee.

Also seeking to petition onto the September ballot is Leecia Eve, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton and Cuomo who is on leave from her job as a lobbyist and top government affairs official for Verizon; and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who ran unsuccessfully for AG in 2006 – the year Cuomo won the four-way Democratic primary for that office, and went on to beat Republican Jeanine Pirro in the November election.

Throughout all of her political campaigns to date, Teachout has focused on campaign finance reform. That focus continued today, when she highlighted the fact that she is the only Democratic AG candidate to reject exploiting the LLC loophole to maximize her fundraising capability.

Teachout also took a swipe at James for being the beneficiary of a fundraiser big money fundraiser being headlined next week by Cuomo, who has raised $16.5 million since 2011 from LLCs alone.

“I accept no corporate PAC money, and no LLC money,” Teachout said. “This is not complicated: No attorney general should take money from corporations she is charged with overseeing and investigating and whose law breaking she may prosecute. When law enforcement candidates takes corporate money, it undermines trust in the law itself, and people get shut out.”

Though not getting the Democratic nod at the convention complicated things for Teachout, forcing her to expend time and resources to get onto the ballot, it also freed her, in a sense, to take positions far to the left of what the governor, (who basically runs the party), is comfortable with. That could prove problematic in a general election, but might help her eke out a victory in the primary.

Teachout Says She’ll Petition Her Way Onto The Ballot

Democratic candidate for attorney general Zephyr Teachout on Friday in a fundraising email said she would petition her way onto the ballot in the race.

“It’s disappointing that in a state like New York we still have to fight a Democratic establishment that refuses to fight for the people and embrace progressive values,” she wrote. “But if we all pitch in and work together, we can change that. The old structures can’t last.

Teachout received 5 percent of the weighted vote at the Democratic convention this week at Hofstra University, which designated New York City Public Advocate Tish James the preferred candidate. Leecia Eve, a former Cuomo administration official, also plans to petition onto the ballot.

“We went there to make our case, and we fought hard for every vote. But honestly, we expected this,” said Teachout, a 2014 candidate for governor and 2016 congressional candidate. “We have a long way to go before the New York State Democratic Party becomes the grassroots party it should be. A lot of these party insiders like the system the way it is.”

Teachout is casting the race as one against the establishment, noting that DNC Chairman Tom Perez endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the convention as he faces Cynthia Nixon in a primary of his own.

“Even the DNC Chair broke the committee’s own principle of not endorsing in primaries by putting his thumb on the scale for Cuomo,” she said. “I’ve never been welcome in Andrew Cuomo’s party, so we know what that will mean for the Attorney General’s race.”

Teachout Nominated For Democratic Committee Post

Zephyr Teachout, the former congressional and gubernatorial candidate, has been nominated for a post on the state Democratic Committee.

She would replace Doris Kelly as the representative for the 106th Assembly district.

“Doris Kelly was a friend and inspiration. I’m honored to be nominated to fill her vacancy, and look forward to working with Democrats across New York, and with the Progressive Caucus and rural Democrats in particular, to strengthen our party and put forth an agenda we can be proud of,” said Teachout in a statement.

Teachout ran last year for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, losing to Republican John Faso.

On the state committee, Teachout would be a prominent critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is the defacto leader of the state party.

Teachout’s PAC Points To New Assembly Member

Zephyr Teachout has launched a fundraising effort using the newest member of the state Assembly, Democrat Christine Pellegrino, as a sign of the group’s success.

In an email released Friday through the Anti-Corruption League, Teachout urged supporters to give $27 before an upcoming reporting deadline so the organization can back candidates in all 50 states in the coming 2018 elections.

“It’s so important that we help more people like Christine win their elections,” wrote Teachout, a former congressional and gubernatorial candidate. “We can have people in office who we know will take on corruption in government. But we know that special interests and the financial elite will do their best to defeat them. Our anti-corruption movement can fight back.”

Pellegrino won an upset victory in a May special election to replace Long Island Republican Joe Saladino. The district is heavily Republican and had backed President Trump’s election.

But Pellegrino benefited in part from an infusion of support from teachers’ unions in her bid to win the seat.

“We know how hard it can be for candidates who make it clear they want to take on corrupt government and financial institutions,” Teachout wrote. “Our system is rigged to allow billionaires and corporations to try and buy elections. That’s why they work so hard to defeat candidates who’ll take on corruption.”

NY-19: Gillibrand Campaigns With Teachout

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday made a last-minute pitch for Democratic House hopeful Zephyr Teachout in her bid for the 19th congressional district.

Gillibrand represented parts of what is now the 19th district in the Hudson Valley before the 2012 round of congressional reapportionment and her elevation to the U.S. Senate in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Hillary Clinton.

“Zephyr Teachout believes in bringing jobs home, supporting local farming, and making things in America again,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“She understands that Congress needs more independent voices standing up to powerful interests and putting our local people and local businesses first. And Zephyr treasures this area just like I do — she knows we need to protect our clean water and fresh air, strengthen our family farms and build vibrant local economies across the Hudson Valley, Catskills and Capital Region. I urge everyone to vote for Zephyr on Election Day, because her positive vision and fierce independence can bring the change we need.”

In some respects, Gillibrand is a bridge between two factions of the Democratic Party after the Clinton campaign reached out to the senator in an effort to woo Teachout with fundraising help, hacked emails posted to Wikileaks last month showed.

Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor who ran for governor in 2014, supported Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign and later endorsed Clinton’s bid.

“Women veterans have drive, determination and incredible skills — they’re a tremendous resource for our economy and our communities. I’m dedicated to helping veterans build businesses, create jobs and expand opportunities for all of us,” said Teachout. “Senator Gillibrand has been a national leader on this, and we’re going to work together to ignite the skills and resources of veterans to explode economic growth across our region.”

Teachout faces Republican John Faso in the costly and hotly contentious battleground House race.

A TWC News/Siena College poll on Sunday showed Faso opening up a six-point lead over Teachout.

NY-19: Obama Endorses Teachout (Updated)

Zephyr Teachout on Monday was among the 30 Democratic House candidates endorsed by President Obama.

Teachout, who had endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential campaign, was praised by Obama as an “independent fighter” for the 19th congressional district.

“I’m proud to endorse Zephyr Teachout for the United States House of Representatives,” Obama said in a statement.

“In Congress, Zephyr will be the kind of reform-minded leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, fairer country for our children. Zephyr is an independent fighter for working families, and will help create an economy that works for everyone in this district, not just the wealthy and well-connected. In Congress, I know that Zephyr will fight for independent businesses, be an advocate for ending the influence of secret money in our political system, and stand up to the big polluters that threaten our fragile water resources. I know that families throughout upstate New York can count on Zephyr to stand up for them, too.”

Obama’s endorsement comes as Democrats nationally — including nominee Hillary Clinton — are moving to bolster candidates running down ballot in an effort to potentially win control of both the House of Representatives and, more plausibly, the U.S. Senate.

Teachout is vying for the open Hudson Valley House seat that is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. She faces Republican former Assemblyman John Faso.

“Barack Obama has been an outstanding fighter for middle class families,” said Teachout. “In Congress, I’ll continue working to protect Social Security and Medicare, invest in our schools, and bring jobs back to the Hudson Valley.

Both Faso and Teachout will face off in a debate live from Woodstock that will air on Time Warner Cable News at 7 p.m.

Updated: The Faso team responds in a lengthy statement of their own.

“It is no surprise that one liberal is endorsing another — the two share a philosophy that espouses big government as the answer for all that ails our nation. Anyone who loves Obamacare will love Professor Teachout, who stands for the same failed policies and big government interference that has stifled our economy; created a high tax and spend culture in Washington; and emboldened our enemies around the world — all while creating an uncertain future for our children and grandchildren.

The choice in this election is a clear one: I am running to change how Washington operates, get a handle on out-of-control spending and burdensome regulations, create jobs in our communities and keep our residents safe — at home and abroad. We need change in this country, not new regulations and taxes supported by Professor Teachout.”

NY-19: Another Super PAC Enters The Fray

From the Morning Memo:

Yet another Super PAC has decided to weigh in on the NY-19 fight to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, adding to the rapidly mounting tally of outside spending on this hotly contested race. 

National Horizon, a conservative group, this morning is launching its first – and so far only – TV ad in New York, aiming to boost the Republican contender in this contest, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso. 

The ad echoes a theme Faso and his allies have been pushing hard lately, accusing the Democrat running in NY-19, Zephyr Teachout, of wanting to significantly raise a plethora of taxes. 

The script features a female narrator who says: 

“More of the same, that’s Zephyr Teachout. More taxes. More political double-talk. Teachout opposed a cap on property taxes here. She backed a new ten billion dollar tax on investments. and on energy, Professor Teachout wants something she calls a quote fee and dividend system, a quote tax is what regular folks might call it. Zephyr Teachout, more of the same with more taxes.”

Republican strategist Nelson Warfield, who has long been involved with National Horizon, said the Super PAC is spending about $150,000 on this ad, ($10,000 of that is to cover production costs), which will run on Albany-area network and cable stations for the next week. 

Warfield said National Horizon decided to get involved in this race because it believes Teachout “presents a unique threat to the public purse,” adding: “A kooky professor is fun at a cocktail party, but in Congress, it’s another matter entirely.” 

This is a potentially potent line of attack against Teachout, especially when it comes to her opposition of the popular property tax cap, which she first expressed in 2014 when she was challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. 

Teachout recently released a video explaining her position on taxes and pushing back against what she characterized as “lies” about her position. She expressed support for a circuit breaker, which is an idea long embraced by progressive advocates and organizations in New York. 

National Horizon hasn’t done much work in New York since 2012, when it spent $500,000 to assist Republican Wendy Long, who was then challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Long ended up losing to Gillibrand in a landslide that year. She’s now running a long-shot campaign against the state’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer. 

NY-19: Teachout Calls Latest Faso Ad ‘Sexist’ (Updated)

Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout on Wednesday released a fundraising appeal in response to Republican John Faso’s latest TV ad that is titled “Crazy.”

The title, in part, is a riff off Teachout in a previous ad calling a claim made by a Republican super PAC that she supports a property tax increase “crazy.” The also accuses Teachout of having a “crazy liberal agenda.”

But Teachout’s campaign in the fundraising email says the ad is a dog whistle of sorts to suggest that she’s too emotional to hold office.

“Every woman knows what it’s like to be called crazy, or irrational, or emotional,” the email states. “It’s a sexist attack made to delegitimize our ideas.”

The email calls for $3 donations from supporters to “fight back against this ugly ad.”

“Our campaign is one that is focused on the issues that matter, like clean water, bringing back jobs, and taking on special interests on Washington,” the email, signed by campaign manager Kim Myers, states. “Our opponent, who this weekend said that he still supports Donald Trump, apparently just wants to call women crazy and hope that’s good enough to get to Congress.”

Teachout and Faso are competing for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley that is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson. The district is one of the top tier battleground races this election cycle.

Updated: The Faso campaign responds.

“Professor Zephyr Teachout is running an attack advertisement on John Faso in which she uses the term ‘that’s crazy.’ For her to suggest that our response, using her own words from her own ad to point out her, yes, crazy liberal ideas, is somehow sexist simply doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Dain Pascocello, a Faso campaign spokesman.

“Opposing the property tax cap, supporting an energy tax, handing Iran more than a hundred billion dollars to sponsor terrorism and finish its nuclear weapons program, taxpayer-funded political campaigns, those things truly are nuts. Sorry, Professor — we call things as we see them.”

Teachout Ad No. 2 (She’s On A Boat!) UPDATED

Democratic NY-19 candidate Zephyr Teachout’s second TV ad of the general election campaign features the candidate riding in a boat on the Hudson River and accusing her Republican opponent, John Faso, of “selling out” to corporate interests and Wall Street billionaires who “wrecked out economy.”

Teachout obliquely mentions the need to clean up both politics and this still-polluted river, which is lined with communities struggling with the lack of jobs. She doesn’t mention anything specific – like, say, the push by the administration led by her 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for the EPA to force GE to continue dredging, arguing that the years-long clean-up job didn’t actually leave the river clean enough.

No word from the Teachout campaign on when this goes on the air, for how long or the size of the buy. Here’s the full script:

“From the Hudson River, you can see a lot of what’s wrong with our country. I’m Zephyr Teachout. At one end is Albany, where politicians like my opponent sold out to corporate interests. At the other end are the Wall Street billionaires who wrecked our economy. ”

“My opponent worked for them too. In between are strong communities on a still-polluted river struggling with the lack of jobs. I’ve fought against corruption my entire career. Now I’m running for Congress and I approved this message because we need to clean up politics and this river.”

UPDATE: According to the campaign, this ad went on the air today, and will be running on cable. The buy is “large” across the district, according to Teachout spokeswoman Alexis Grenell.

NY-19: Teachout To Rally With Sanders

Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout on Friday will rally with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her campaign announced.

The rally will be held at Hasbrouk Park in New Paltz, scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

“We have exciting news: this Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders will be joining Zephyr Teachout for a rally in New Paltz!” the campaign wrote in an email to supporters. “Join this historic event to hear Bernie and Zephyr discuss the important issues facing our communities and our country.”

Teachout was endorsed early on by Sanders, who performed well in upstate counties in the state’s April presidential primary, but lost to Hillary Clinton.

Teachout ran a similarly insurgent Democratic primary in 2014 against Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left after she failed to receive the backing of the Working Families Party.

This time around, Teachout has sought to muster liberals, with support from the WFP, for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, a seat that’s being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.