Ryan Hendrickson, Staff Writer
On September 9, New York State held election primaries to help decide who will be running the state government. Although elections were held for senate districts, by far the most important of the primaries was the campaign for governor. It was in this race that current Governor Andrew Cuomo faced a tough fight against a previously unknown law professor, named Zephyr Teachout. At the start of the race a few months ago, everyone assumed that Cuomo would win in a landslide and that Teachout would soon be forgotten. But as the results poured in Tuesday night, it became apparent that this would not be the case.
The reason why many originally thought Teachout did not stand a chance was because the odds were truly stacked against her. Governor Cuomo has led New York State for four years. This experience, coupled with name recognition, makes him one of the more widely-known politicians in the country. Cuomo had the active support of New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso, as well as Senator Hillary Clinton. On top of all of this, Cuomo had raised over $33 million for his re-election campaign, an amount believed to be 40 times greater than that of Teachout. Despite all of this, as Election Day drew closer, the certainty that Cuomo would win began to fade.
While Cuomo has dominated state politics for four years, Teachout, an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University, didn’t enter into public discussion until she announced her campaign in early 2014. Teachout decided to run because many Democrats across New York have become unhappy with Cuomo. For his entire time as governor, Cuomo carried out pro-business policies and actively worked with the state’s Republicans. Cuomo even went so far as to actively create a new coalition within the New York State Senate that led to Democrats losing their majority. With Republicans running the Senate, progressive reforms such as The Women’s Equality Act have stalled, a fact that many now blame Cuomo for.
Despite working against his own party, Cuomo was still slated to win. However, as the campaigns got under way, Teachout’s popularity began to rise, her progressive agenda appealed to many Democrats. Her pledge to ban hydro-fracking was welcome news considering Cuomo has failed to do the same. As Teachout’s popularity grew, Cuomo’s was fading in large part because of a political scandal in which he was accused of breaking the law. The allegations stemmed from a 2013 commission setup by Cuomo to end government corruption. However, as the commission began its investigations, Cuomo himself began to be linked to corrupt businesses and politicians. As a result, Cuomo shut down the commission. Unfortunately for the governor, the federal government began investigating all of this and now the District Attorney’s Office is considering criminal charges against either Cuomo or his staff.
With Cuomo facing a criminal investigation and Teachout’s popularity growing, people began to wonder if Election Day would result in a major upset. As polls closed Tuesday night, it was announced that Cuomo had won with 62 percent of the votes and Teachout won 34 percent.
Although defeated, Teachout stated that she considered the election to be at least a partial victory, stating that the state’s Democrats had made their voices, and their dissatisfaction with Cuomo, heard loud and clear. Cuomo, with the primary behind him, must now win the general election against Republican Rob Astorino, while also battling a criminal investigation and an unhappy political party.