The field of progressive Democrats running for statewide office is filling up fast. On Monday, Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham Law School who wrote the book Corruption in America, officially launched her second bid for New York Attorney General, standing outside the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Municipal Building in Brooklyn.
“The attorney general’s office is the largest public interest law firm in the country,” said Teachout, “and we have a real opportunity and responsibility to hold power accountable and get things done for people.”
The left-leaning Teachout, who out-performed expectations in her debut run for statewide office in 2014 challenging former Governor Andrew Cuomo, had been signaling that she would jump in the attorney general’s race if James ran for governor; James made that announcement late last month.
Teachout first ran for the state A.G. in 2018 and lost in a four-way primary to James.
At Monday’s announcement, Teachout stood flanked by other progressive elected officials, including Assemblymembers Emily Gallagher from Brooklyn and Ron Kim of Queens. Both praised her commitment to speaking out against corruption in corporations that operate in New York and within state government itself.
“When people like Emily and I fight against corruption in Albany, our voices get reduced,” Kim said, describing the institutional pushback he experienced when he first spoke out against bullying from former Governor Cuomo. He said when others were telling him to back down, Teachout stood with him, “and she will continue to hold powerful forces accountable.”
Teachout trumpeted national support for her campaign from prominent, progressive legal experts and advocates — including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, and environmental activist Bill McKibben. Teachout also has secured the backing of more than two dozen local elected officials across the state.
In another symbol of how Teachout seeks to define her candidacy, centering her roles as a woman and mother, she also was joined on the stump by her midwife, Eugenia Montesinos, who helped deliver her now 3-year-old son.
Montesinos made the case that Teachout understands issues driving increased maternal mortality rates, especially among Black and other pregnant people of color, and would serve as an advocate for women’s health from her perch in the state A.G.’s office.
This marks Teachout’s fourth campaign for public office. She also ran for Congress in 2016 in Dutchess County, where she won the primary but then lost in the general election to former Republican Congressman John Faso.
She becomes the second candidate to officially announce a bid for the state attorney general’s office. State Senator Shelley Mayer, who represents parts of Westchester County including portions of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, and Rye, announced her bid for state A.G. earlier this month.
Other potential candidates include Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens, and Congressmember Kathleen Rice of Long Island. Also on Monday, Attorney John A. Sarcone III, who runs a private practice in Croton-on-Hudson, launched a bid for the Republican nomination for state A.G. at an event outside the Westchester County Courthouse.
The last Republican to hold the state A.G.'s office was Dennis Vacco, who lost a re-election bid to Eliot Spitzer in 1998.