Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t have much to say about Zephyr Teachout’s political ambitions.
The governor, when pressed today about his primary challenger’s stated desire to run again for statewide or even citywide office, was terse.
“She can run. It’s called a democracy,” Mr. Cuomo told the Observer at a campaign event today, declining to elaborate.
Ms. Teachout, a little known law professor, garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote against Mr. Cuomo in the Democratic primary last week. The surprisingly high vote total was seen as a blow to Mr. Cuomo, who has grown unpopular among some liberals in the state.
While Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, which has a war chest north of $30 million, and the State Democratic Party spent heavily, the governor himself rarely–if ever–mentioned Ms. Teachout by name and made few appearances on the campaign trail. In public, he ignored her and did not hold a victory party for himself on Election Day.
Since her loss, Ms. Teachout has remained in the spotlight. She recently said she would like to campaign for Senate Democrats this fall and has declined to endorse Mr. Cuomo, who is up against Republican Rob Astorino. What next office she can seek is unclear: city level posts won’t have elections, barring special elections, until 2017, and state lawmakers won’t be up for election again until 2016. Her Fort Greene, Brooklyn home lies in several city and state level districts with incumbents that will be hard to unseat.
Mr. Cuomo, meanwhile, is hoping to bury Mr. Astorino after Ms. Teachout did unexpectedly well against him. Along with his candidate for lieutenant governor, former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, and ex-Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mr. Cuomo appeared at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan today to attack conservative lawmakers for refusing to pass the 10-point Women’s Equality Act–Mr. Cuomo’s camp is asking all candidates seeking office in the state to sign a pledge to pass the act.
With the help of Ms. Quinn, Mr. Cuomo formed the Women’s Equality Party this year in part to highlight the social conservatism of Mr. Astorino and other Republicans seeking statewide office. He claimed today’s event, however, was aimed at elected officials in the state legislature and not Mr. Astorino. But the Republican, the target of many negative advertisements from Mr. Cuomo’s camp, was clearly not too far from any of the Democrats’ minds.
“I thought the 10 points were all no brainers and inarguable,” Mr. Cuomo said. It was the tenth point of the act–a codification of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade standards into state law–that was not acceptable to many conservatives. “Much to my surprise, it became controversial and it did not pass.”