Issue #327

Andrew Cuomo’s unlikely challenger for Governor of New York is gaining endorsements and giving him a headache

With the September 9 Democratic primary just a few weeks, Teachout has been doing her best to agitate the bull by calling out Cuomo for what many see as his betrayal of basic Democratic principles in favor of stock Republican positions.


It was a beautiful evening overlooking the Hudson River in Ossining NY, and Zephyr Teachout was standing on a small wooden stage with the sunset behind her. A law professor at Fordham University who first made her name as the online organizer for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, she drew laughter and cheers from the crowd of teachers, anti-fracking activists, and public employees who had come out to see her. She was telling them a story about a bull. When she was growing up, she said, her dad got a bull to go along with the chickens and sheep and “occasional pig” on their small farm in Vermont. But the bull didn’t like to stay fenced in, and so to get the bull to come back, she would “walk up to him, tickle him on the nose, and then turn around and run as fast as I could until I got to the other side of the fence with the bull chasing me, and then my dad would close the fence and I would climb back outside.” She paused for effect. “So I’m running for governor of the state of New York.” The audience broke up in laughter, instantly recognizing Teachout’s story as metaphor as much as memoir. The bull, they understood, was meant to be Andrew Cuomo, the powerful incumbent governor—and son of another powerful governor, Mario Cuomo—who is known for his strongarm tactics and relentless pursuit of his political goals (including a potential run for president in 2016). The child, of course, was meant to be Teachout, the unlikely primary challenger, who manages to outmaneuver her foe using swiftness and wit. The Nation, 8-15-14.