Progressive Icon Zephyr Teachout Wins Democratic Primary In New York

Zephyr Teachout on Tuesday breezed to victory in the Democratic primary for New York’s 19th Congressional District, setting the stage for a November face-off against John Faso, a Republican and former member of the New York state Assembly.

“I am running for Congress to break down those doors in Washington, D.C.; the doors that are keeping the people of America — the real people, the citizens of America — locked out,” Teachout said in an email to supporters after her win. “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 NY 19. For the American people.”

Teachout is one of the top progressive recruits in the 2016 field, a law professor who specializes in the study of corruption and corporate power. Teachout’s campaign has focused on money in politics, denouncing the ease with which big business is able to distort both consumer markets and the political process. She garnered national attention with her 2014 primary challenge to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), a race in which she secured over a third of the vote with a shoestring operation.

The core of Teachout’s support in that contest was in the Hudson Valley, where the 19th District is located. The district leans Democratic, going for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, but during Obama’s first term the district’s voters elected a Republican, Rep. Chris Gibson, to the House. Gibson is stepping down this year to consider a gubernatorial run of his own, making the district one of the best opportunities for Democrats to pick up a seat from Republicans in November.

In early June, Teachout held a commanding polling lead over Ivy League-educated farmer Will Yandik in the Democratic primary. Teachout is very popular with the progressive wing of the party, and is one of only a handful of House candidates whom Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has helped raise money for during his presidential campaign. Teachout has proved to be a fundraising juggernaut, raising more money in the first three months of her campaign than any other House candidate from either party in the state of New York. She relies heavily on small donors, with an average contribution of less than $50 in the first quarter of this year.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the official House recruitment arm of the Democratic Party, did not formally endorse a candidate in the Teachout-Yandik primary, but held extensive conversations with Yandik. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, both New York Democrats, have endorsed Teachout.

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