Teachout celebrates court victory over Cuomo in Brooklyn, pushes for debate

Zephyr Teachout, Democratic challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, celebrated her latest legal victory over the governor on Monday with a party at the Hollow Nickel on Atlantic Avenue, not far from the courthouse.

Gov. Cuomo had tried to knock Teachout, a Fordham University Law School professor and Fort Greene resident, off the primary ballot by challenging her residency. Judge Edgar Walker ruled on Monday, however, that Gov. Cuomo’s petitioners had not provided “clear and convincing evidence” that Teachout failed to meet the residency requirements.

Gov. Cuomo had earlier challenged her petition signatures, but also lost that battle.

Supporters and passersby shook her hand and posed for photos on the sidewalk outside the pub.

“I never had any doubt that I was a New Yorker, but now we have official court approval stating that as a matter of law, I am a New Yorker and I will be on the ballot in the Democratic primary for governor,” Teachout told the Brooklyn Eagle.

She said she expected the governor to appeal Monday’s decision. The Governor's Office referred the Eagle's question regarding an appeal to the state Democratic Party, which has not yet responded.

Gov. Cuomo “seems to be afraid of a primary,” she said. “And now there’s no more excuses. We have to have a debate.”

Teachout spoke about the many areas of difference between herself and Gov. Cuomo.

“I believe in infrastructure. I believe everybody has the right to have access to great public education. I believe everybody has the right to have access to great hospital services. I believe that what we’ve seen under his governorship is four years of a Republican who’s focused on his donors instead of a Democrat who’s focused on the people of New York," she said.

Teachout believes that several of her positions – including on the topics of affordable housing, Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and public education -- should especially resonate with Brooklyn voters.

“There is a real crisis in affordable housing. Rent is too expensive and instead of home rule, where we can actually do something about rent, the governor keeps control in Albany,” Teachout said. “Where you see subsidies for housing, they tend to be subsidies for luxury housing.”

Teachout said that Gov. Cuomo “took $100,000 from Extell [Development] Corporation as a campaign contribution, and a week later they got major subsidies for building a luxury housing building. It’s the same story over and over again.”

She also addressed the governor’s shortcomings regarding the closure of LICH.

“We need LICH, and the job of the governor should be not to say all the reasons it doesn’t work, but all the ways in it could work,” she said.

“It’s cruel to move emergency care and health care so far away from so many people, and what Gov. Cuomo has said is that the future doesn’t have room for hospitals like LICH. But the future of a Teachout/Wu administration [Tim Wu is her running mate] is a future in which there is room for that. So we have to work it out – that’s a basic job of government.”

“Schools are a central piece of my campaign,” she said, listing “small class sizes, making sure we support teachers and arts for every kid” as key topics.

“I think public education is the infrastructure of democrac,y and we should have the best public schools in the country here.”

She took a firm stance on the subject of putting limits on the growth of charter schools.

“No more co-locations; we absolutely cannot lift the cap on charters,” she said. “They’re supposed to be an experiment, not an alternative to public education. And what we see is this real assault on public education coming in all kinds of different forms.”

Teachout put herself in the same progressive camp as fellow Brooklynite Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“I share so many basic values with Mayor de Blasio,” she said. “I think he shows that there’s a progressive, populist moment here in New York, and that my administration wouldn’t have to tangle with de Blasio. We’d be working towards the same goal.”