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Judge Rules Cuomo’s Challenger, Zephyr Teachout, May Stay On Ballot

New York Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout is questioned in court on Aug. 7, 2014. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

New York Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout is questioned in court on Aug. 7, 2014. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A judge in Brooklyn has ruled that liberal law professor Zephyr Teachout is eligible to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in next month’s Democratic primary, dismissing an attempt by Cuomo supporters to kick her off the ballot.

In a decision announced Monday, the judge dismissed a challenge from Cuomo supporters who argued that Teachout didn’t meet the state’s 5-year residency requirement to run and noted that she had a Vermont driver’s license until this spring.

Judge Rules Cuomo's Challenger, Zephyr Teachout, May Stay On Ballot

teachout on trial Judge Rules Cuomos Challenger, Zephyr Teachout, May Stay On Ballot
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports

Teachout had insisted that she met the requirement, saying she has lived in New York since taking a job at Fordham University in 2009. She said she has spent time during the summers in Vermont, where she was raised and where her family still lives, but that she remains a New York resident.

“Today we beat the governor and his old boys club in court. His two attempts to knock me off the ballot have failed — first by challenging my petition signatures, and second by challenging my residency. We won Rounds 1 and 2. Now it’s time for Round 3: a debate. New York Democrats deserve a debate between Andrew Cuomo and myself about the issues that real New Yorkers care about: schools, fracking, corruption and building a fair and strong economy,” Teachout said in a statement. “There wasn’t supposed to be a primary in Andrew Cuomo’s New York. Game on.”

Teachout told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond the challenge to her residency by Cuomo’s supporters not only backfired, but gave the virtual unknown media exposure that money could not buy.

“The last week has been an extremely exciting week with new volunteers, new supporters, new donors,” she said.

Teachout mounted her bid to oust Cuomo after losing the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party to the governor this spring. Cuomo won the backing of the party after promising to work for liberal priorities, including a higher minimum wage and broad public campaign financing.

Teachout has criticized Cuomo for backing business-friendly tax policies and charter schools and says he hasn’t done enough to combat income inequality.

“Andrew Cuomo’s positions are a lot more like the Republicans,” Teachout said. “So I think he didn’t want me on the ballot because he didn’t want to have a debate and he didn’t want to have to explain why he has really not governed as a Democrat.”

Cuomo supporters could appeal the judge’s decision. The primary is Sept. 9.

Polls show her campaign remains unknown to many voters.

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