Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor and former gubernatorial candidate, announced this afternoon she is running for Congress in the Hudson Valley.
Ms. Teachout, who rose to prominence after she unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, announced her candidacy on Twitter after publicly mulling a decision for several weeks. A progressive darling, she already has the support of the liberal Working Families Party and Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which will allow her to raise a significant amount of cash quickly.
“Throughout my career, I’ve never been afraid to stand up for ordinary citizens whose voices are drowned out by special interests, big corporations, and powerful insiders,” she said in a statement. “I’m running for Congress to give people their voices back so together we can address the real concerns facing our communities.”
Ms. Teachout won 34 percent of the vote against Mr. Cuomo, an unexpectedly high figure considering Mr. Cuomo’s large fundraising advantage. She was a protest candidate who energized public employees, environmentalists and liberal activists angry at Mr. Cuomo’s centrism and lack of commitment to good government reforms. Since her challenge, Mr. Cuomo has notably moved to the left on various economic issues, including the minimum wage.
For Ms. Teachout, a congressional campaign will be less of an uphill slog. The district is represented by a moderate Republican, Chris Gibson, who is not seeking re-election to plan a gubernatorial bid of his own. A swing district more beneficial to Democrats in presidential years, it could buoy Ms. Teachout with a large Democratic turnout for the presidential election this November. Her path to the Democratic nomination was cleared when a front-line candidate chose not to seek the seat.
For national Democrats, the seat represents a potential pick-up opportunity, and she is likely to receive help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Regardless of the outcome, Democrats are expected to be mired in the minority for years to come.
Ms. Teachout could face questions over her residency and commitment to the district. She has a home in Dutchess County but lived primarily in Brooklyn when she was ran for governor. Her decision to run for the seat could invite charges of carpetbagging from her rivals.
On the Republican side, businessman Andrew Heaney and former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso are competing in a primary.