HUDSON, New York — If Zephyr Teachout wins the race for New York’s 19th Congressional District, she will do more than add a seat to the Democratic column. She will help bring Bernie Sander’s political revolution to the House.

Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, has been a leader in the Occupy movement and served as head of Mayday PAC, dedicated to campaign finance reform. She is also the former director of the Sunlight Foundation and the author of the widely-read book, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United.

She was among the first Congressional candidates to be endorsed by Sanders and won New York District 19’s Democratic primary by 71 percent of the vote.

That primary attracted a much higher turnout than did the Republican balloting.

New York’s 19th District is largely rural, includes parts of 11 Upstate New York Hudson valley counties and has a long history of swinging back and forth between Democratic and Republican representation. It once elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the New York State Senate. Since 2010, the area has been represented by conservative Republican Chris Gibson, who is now retiring.

Teachout faces right winger John Faso for Gibson’s vacant seat.

Faso is a lobbyist for many conservative causes. As a member of the New York State legislature, He was the original sponsor of charter school legislation and was a leading figure in the passage of Governor Pataki’s proposal to create charter schools in New York State in 1998.

Faso’s Republican primary campaign was funded in large part by hedge fund manager Robert Mercer through a super PAC called New York Wins. He won the Republican primary by over two to one.

Faso is now being backed by billionaire hedge fund operators like Paul Singer who are pouring millions into super PACs aimed at helping candidates who support Donald Trump for president.

As quoted in The Nation magazine, Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America, said “Wall Street is scared to death of being held accountable by Zephyr Teachout in the halls of Congress.

“Few candidates,” Dean continued, are better prepared than [she is] to run and win the kind of aggressive, people-powered campaign [that is] needed.”

In 2014, Teachout received 34 percent of the vote when she ran against incumbent Andrew Cuomo to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor.

Her congressional campaign is being supported by small donors, not the super rich.

“Score one for the political revolution,” Working Families Party New York State Director Bill Lipton told The Nation.

“Zephyr has been able to build a grassroots movement of activists and small dollar donors looking to take on the political and economic establishment. Voters in the 19th District now have a rare opportunity to elect a representative who will lift up their voices and be a national leader in taking on corruption and corporate influence in our politics. The choice for them in November could not be clearer, and eyes of the entire country will continue to be on this race.”

Teachout says, “One of the original sins in modern thinking is the separation of thinking about economics and politics.”

She advocates policies that respond “to the interests of the people [rather than] to the interests of individual, monopolistic companies.”

She is one of the nation’s leading advocates for campaign-finance and ethics reforms, breaking up big banks, net neutrality, and raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, which New York State has already done.

In her primary night victory speech, Teachout said “I am running for Congress to break down those doors in Washington, DC; the doors that are keeping the people of America-the real people, the citizens of America-locked out. I’ve been fighting well-paid lobbyists on behalf of working families my entire life.

“I will fight until we win-for the people of New York’s 19th and for the American people.”

Photo: Zephyr Teachout  |  Mike Groll/AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.