Law Professor Runs for Congress


Zephyr Teachout, associate professor at Fordham Law, previously ran against current NY governor Andrew Cuomo (Digital Media via Flickr)


Associate Fordham Law professor, Zephyr Teachout, recently announced her campaign for an open Congressional seat in the 19th district of New York.

Teachout’s previous run for public office was her bid for incumbent and Fordham graduate Andrew Cuomo’s governorship. Teachout was able to secure 34.3 percent of the votes in the primary election. Associate Professor of political science Christina Greer, Ph.D, said this feat is  significant because “she had no name recognition and she went against a very powerful, not just Governor, but someone who has a family name.”

In voting for Teachout instead of Cuomo, voters sent “a very clear message to the Governor that even though he is incredibly powerful, he can still be beaten,” Greer said.

In her current race for a seat in the House of Representatives, Teachout is running in a district previously represented by a Republican. In regards to the viability of her chances of turning this district blue, Greer noted that a lot of the counties in upstate New York are not as “red versus blue as you might think, they might be a little more purple, so often times you’ll find more moderate to conservative Democrats who are voting not necessarily based on party, but because they actually like that candidate.”

Teachout has pledged to fund her campaign for Congress sans any monetary contribution from super PACs, a group that can spend large sums of money independently from campaigns or candidates, and rely on grassroots donations. In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Teachout condemned big money in politics, both on the national and state levels. She wrote on the illegality of the quid pro quo exchanges in politics and that big money donations are only legal if those exchanges do not take place. However, “legal campaign contributions can be as bad as bribes in creating obligations,” she wrote. “The corruption that hides in plain sight is the real threat to our democracy.”

In the op-ed Teachout argues that the private financing of campaigns is not the only way campaigns should be funded. The rationale being that publicly funded campaigns with enough financial support make it “so that anyone with a broad base of support can run for office, and respond effectively to attacks, without becoming dependent on private patrons.”

Teachout’s grassroots campaign would bring in small money donations, which Greer aligns to voters investing in the campaign for which they donated, “come Election Day, they’re the most likely to turn out and vote.”

The district where Teachout is running comprises parts of Hudson Valley and the Catskills area. Republicans also vying for the seat in this district are Andrew Heaney, John Faso and Bob Bishop. On the Democratic side, Teachout will face off against John Kehoe.