Gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and her running mate for lieutenant governor Tim Wu made a stop on their “Whistleblower Tour” this past Friday to speak at a rally against fracking at SUNY New Paltz. Teachout, a professor of Constitutional Law at Fordham University, announced at the rally that she had just received the endorsement of the National Organization for Women (NOW) along with the Sierra Club, The Nation and a plethora of unions throughout the state. Teachout is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in the September 9 Democratic primary.
“We are not Albany insiders,” Teachout said, “but we believe Governor Cuomo and Kathy Hochul [Cuomo’s running mate] can be beat, and must be challenged. We will force Governor Cuomo to defend his record of deep education cuts, his tax cuts for banks and billionaires, his refusal to ban fracking and his failure to lead on the Dream Act. He has also failed to deliver on his core campaign promise from four years ago: cleaning up Albany.”
Teachout spoke to the mostly multi-aged crowd, sprinkled with children, students, adults and senior citizens, saying that she has a vision for New York that will make public higher education affordable; a New York that “should be leading the way in renewable resources” and environmental policies; a New York that bans fracking and all fracking byproducts; and a New York that “supports small local businesses and farms, rather than giving tax breaks to corporate campaign donors.”
Despite repeated attempts to have Governor Cuomo engage in a political debate before the Democratic primary on September 9, he has refused. “He has the audacity, eleven days out from this primary, to refuse to debate me,” she said. “If he did, he’d have to give the voters a direct answer on where he stands on fracking, since he has accepted campaign donations from pro-fracking companies and has not passed a ban on hydrofracking in New York State. He would have to give a direct answer as to why he did not pass a bill on public financing of elections this past spring, which he promised he would do four years ago. He would have to explain where he got his $35 million in campaign finances from.” In contrast, the Teachout/Wu campaign has raised $200,000 and has not stopped going from town to town, city to city all across New York.
Tim Rogers, who organized Teachout and Wu’s stop in New Paltz, said that he originally supported her as a “protest candidate,” but as time went on saw that she was “gaining incredible momentum,” with endorsements from unions, environmental organizations and NOW. Asked why he wanted to bring Teachout and Wu to New Paltz, he said, “I think a gubernatorial candidate who talks about the need to ban fracking, to make public higher education affordable and about alternative energy sources, resonates with people in New Paltz.” With young children holding signs that said “We love solar power” and “We want windmills, not fracked wells,” and people of all ages chanting her name and waving banners of support, it seemed that New Paltz was a perfect stop for the Whistleblower Tour.
“The system is rigged, and Andrew Cuomo is part of the broken system,” Teachout said. “We are running to lay out a bold vision and provide a real choice for voters. New York can have an economy that works for all of us, not one which works only for the wealthy and well-connected. We believe in a New York where wages are rising, small businesses are thriving and our public schools are the best in the nation.”
She also told the New Paltz Times that what prompted her to run was, among many disappointments in Cuomo’s record the past four years, “when he did not support public financing of elections this spring: something he promised to do when he ran for governor.”
In closing, Teachout asked everyone to spread the word and get people out to vote on September 9 “for the upset of the century! You can help make history!”
Cuomo is seeking his second four-year term in office. The Republican candidate for governor is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.