Governor Andrew Cuomo won yesterday's primary against an opponent he refused to debate or even acknowledge; the first time his challenger's name came from Cuomo was in a statement last night in which he said, "I also want to congratulate Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu on running a spirited campaign, engaging in the democratic process and having the courage to make their voices heard." Of course, it was impossible for Cuomo to hear their brave little voices during the actual campaign, but his aides told him the faint squeaking sounds they made were very inspiring.
Cuomo's margin of victory was much smaller than he would have liked; with 98% of precincts reporting, Cuomo was at 62% to Teachout's 34%. Teachout and running mate Tim Wu's liberal no-budget challenge forced Cuomo to spend millions on advertising in a primary that was supposed to be a cakewalk for the incumbent, and last night Teachout celebrated the influence her campaign had on the governor.
"Our agenda is not going away," Teachout said at last night's primary party at a Hell's Kitchen club. "We're not just voting, We're organizing. We are grassroots lobbying, and we are holding elected officials feet to the fire and you know I'm ready for that job... This campaign demonstrates the rise of a new force in New York politics and in American politics. Democrats don't need to be scared anymore... Democrats in New York have to shed their fear and speak up."
The New York Times described Teachout's strong performance as "an embarrassing rebuke to Mr. Cuomo, and it could put a dent in any national aspirations he may hold.":
Her support was driven in part by frustration among Democrats with Mr. Cuomo’s carefully calibrated way of governing. While he has been lauded by liberals in the state and nationally for bold action on topics like same-sex marriage and gun control, his posture on nuts-and-bolts issues like budgets and taxes has leaned more toward the right.
Mr. Cuomo, 56, has raised more than $40 million since taking office at the start of 2011. He retains the backing of the state’s Democratic establishment as well as most of its most politically potent labor unions, valuable allies in getting voters to the polls.
Teachout—who told NY1 she often felt like an "invisible woman" campaigning against Cuomo—lost every borough in NYC, but claimed victory in nearly two dozen upstate counties, performing better than expected in other parts of the state. The Wall Street Journal reports that Teachout won 57% of the vote in Dutchess County, where "a persistently weak economy convinced many to support Ms. Teachout, said Roger Christenfeld, chairman of the Poughkeepsie Democrats. That city is 'floundering' with schools that are starved for attention."
“The economy is not rising in Dutchess County,” Christenfeld told the Journal. “I’m not sure we blame Cuomo directly for the economy, but we don’t find his policies inspirational.”
Tim Wu, the candidate for Lieutenant Governor, lost to Cuomo running mate Kathy Hochul by almost 20 percent. (With 98% of precincts reporting, Hochul had 59% to Wu's 40%.) At last night's event, Wu told Capital New York, "If a campaign that has in my case, the L.G., one paid staff, four volunteers can take ... 40 percent of the vote, just think what we can do when we really start to get organized."
Cuomo will now face Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County Executive, in the general election in November. Polls already show Cuomo with a wide margin, and the governor certainly has enough money to maintain it.
In his only public appearance yesterday (to vote with
wife girlfriend Sandra Lee), Cuomo responded to Teachout's suggestion that Cuomo's supporters lack "passion" for the governor. "I’m a passionate guy," Cuomo insisted. "I think my supporters have a lot of passion. You know, they may not come out and protest, but you want to see passion? You talk to an angry taxpayer who’s living in Westchester and is paying the highest property taxes not only in the state, but in the nation."
Elsewhere in New York, Tony Avella squeaked by former NYC Comptroller John Liu for State Senate, Adriano Espaillat defeated Robert Jackson in another State Senate race, and Charles Barron beat Christ Banks for State Assembly. WNYC has all the election results right here for your perusal.