ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Zephyr Teachout survived another attempt by supporters of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to knock her off next month’s Democratic primary ballot after a judicial panel ruled Wednesday that she is eligible to run.
In the ruling, the judges concluded that Teachout meets the state constitution’s five-year residency requirement. Two Cuomo supporters had alleged that Teachout wasn’t a full-time resident.
A spokesman for the Cuomo campaign told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman there will be no appeal to the state’s highest court.
Teachout has said the challenge is a “frivolous” attempt by Cuomo’s campaign to silence opposition to his re-election. The Fordham University law professor has emerged as a leading irritant to the governor, and her presence on the ballot threatens Cuomo’s plan to win a second term by an overwhelming majority.
“I was thrilled that it (the ruling) was unanimous,” Teachout told Silverman. “There’s just no question anymore.”
The two men behind the challenge — Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht — are listed online as Cuomo campaign interns. Their attorney, Martin Connor, argues that Teachout “retroactively” changed her residency to New York when she decided to challenge Cuomo. Teachout obtained a New York driver’s license this spring.
Teachout says she has resided in New York City since taking her job at Fordham in 2009, despite stints teaching at Harvard University and a fellowship in Washington. She said she has also visited family in Vermont, where she grew up.
A recent Marist poll revealed 78 percent of New Yorkers are not familiar with Teachout.
In that regard, the court fight could only help, she said.
“We’ve had extraordinary momentum the last couple of weeks, and that’s in part because Andrew Cuomo keeps refusing to answer basic questions,” Teachout said. “But it’s in large part because he keeps trying to sue me to keep me off the ballot.
“I want to know, when he keeps trying to kick me off the ballot, what are you boys afraid of? All I want is to have a wide-open debate.”
While Cuomo has been silent about Teachout’s offer, Republican candidate Rob Astorino said in a campaign video he would debate the professor. Teachout said the campaigns are working to set up a debate.
The primary is Sept. 9.
The ballot will include a third Democrat, comedian and drug law critic Randy Credico.
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