Four Appellate Court justices unanimously voted today to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s suit to remove Fordham professor Zephyr Teachout from the ballot–marking Mr. Cuomo’s third failed attempt to eliminate the longshot candidate from contention in the Democratic primary.
The governor has long maintained that Ms. Teachout does not meet the five-year residency requirement to run for office in New York, due to time spent and an address used in her native Vermont, even though a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge dismissed such claims earlier this month. The appeals court judges–which included Peter Skelos, brother of Republican State Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos–remained similarly unconvinced by the evidence presented by Mr. Cuomo’s attorney, former Democratic State Senator Martin Connor.
“Although Zephyr R. Teachout has resided in several different residences within City of New York since 2009, while maintaining close connections to her childhood domicile in Vermont, that is nothing more than an ambiguity of the residency calculus,” the judges wrote in their decision. “The Supreme Court’s determination that petitioners failed to meet their burden of demonstrating that Teachout did not meet the constitutional residency requirements for the office of governor is warranted by the facts.”
Ms. Teachout was triumphant after having deflected first Mr. Cuomo’s challenge to her nominating petition signatures, then his case in Brooklyn Supreme Court and now his appeal. She reiterated her demand that the incumbent debate her before the primary next month.
“Today’s unanimous decision by the appellate court comes as no surprise. With this frivolous lawsuit behind us I’m hopeful the Governor will now agree to debate. We have very different visions for where we want to take the state. I want a New York with a small business economy and democracy that works for all us. Democratic primary voters deserve a choice,” she said in a statement.
Mr. Cuomo’s camp declined to comment beyond saying there would be no further appeals.
A Quinnipiac University poll released today found that–though voters feel Mr. Cuomo is part of the problem in Albany–the governor’s re-election odds have been largely unaffected by the revelation that his aides interfered in the functioning of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. Eighty-eight percent of those asked about Ms. Teachout, meanwhile, said they do not know enough about her to form an opinion.