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Will local Dems dump Cuomo?

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By DIANE VALDEN

GHENT—Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is not the only one who wants incumbent Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s job.

Both Zephyr Teachout of Brooklyn, an associate professor of law at Fordham University, and Randy Credico of New York City, a political satirist, civil rights activist, are on the ballot seeking to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor in the Tuesday, September 9 primary election.

Kathy C. Hochul of Buffalo and Timothy Wu of New York City are battling it out for the Democratic line for lieutenant governor on the November 4 ballot.

Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy is not seeking re-election.

Professor Teachout (http://law.fordham.edu/faculty/zephyrteachout.htm), a political unknown, has raised a significant challenge to Governor Cuomo and attracted support from some Columbia County Democrats.

She has promised to weed out corruption in Albany. Meanwhile, the governor is besieged by questions and criticism for having abruptly ended the work of a commission he set up to investigate corruption. The Daily News and The New York Times have reported that the governor’s aides told some members of the investigation panel, called a Moreland Act Commission, to drop inquiries about one or more donors to the governor’s campaign. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating.

Among the local Democrats who have voiced support for Professor Teachout are Hudson City Democratic Committee Chairman Victor Mendolia and the Association of Chatham Democrats.

Local Democrats who are backing Ms. Teachout have been vocal, while supporters of Mr. Cuomo have not spoken out publically on his behalf. And the governor, who is seeking a second term, has declined to debate his primary opponents. Mr. Cuomo remains far ahead of Mr. Astorino in the polls and has a reported $35 million campaign fund, many times larger than his GOP opponent.

The Hudson Democratic Committee did not make an endorsement in the governor’s race, but Mr. Mendolia said in recent press release, “Although I am the chair of the Hudson Democrats, this year I cannot personally support the incumbent governor for re-election. Andrew Cuomo has been an utter disappointment. From his refusal to help Democrats win the state Senate, to his failure to deliver credible campaign finance reform and his increasingly obvious ethical problems, I cannot support the governor for re-election. This year I am standing with the only anti-corruption, anti-fracking, pro-people, Progressive Democrat in the race. I’m working for Zephyr Teachout.” Mr. Mendolia organized a local August 10 appearance by Ms. Teachout at Basilica Hudson.

At their August meeting, according to a press release, the Chatham Democrats “enthusiastically endorsed” Ms. Teachout and Mr. Wu for the Democratic nomination for governor and lieutenant governor, over incumbent Governor Cuomo and his running mate, Ms. Hochul.

“After reviewing Teachout’s positions on corruption, education, the environment, the economy and open democracy, it was an easy decision to back her and not the governor based on his methods and results. The Chatham Democrats want a change in direction,” said Melissa Pollock, a member of the Chatham group.

Committee members discussed the governor’s handling of several issues and agreed he has not met expectations. Chatham Town Democratic Party Chair Ernie Reis related his experiences in public schools, saying in the release, “As a regular substitute teacher I have witnessed firsthand how destructive Governor Cuomo’s policies have been on public education. Teachout will breathe new life into our public schools. Cuomo’s attack on teachers and public education needs to end.”

“Andrew Cuomo has achieved a few things but his bullying tactics are not how we want it done. His failure to listen to the common people—those people doing the work in our schools and towns—is disheartening. He is obligated to corporations and big money supporters. Zephyr Teachout represents the kind of Democrat we relate to; smart, personable, passionate and in line with our positions on blue plate issues,” Bob Balcom, interim president of the local Democratic Club, said in the release. He went on to appeal to all Democrats to get out and vote on primary day and support the “true Democrats, Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu.”

Columbia County Democratic Party Chair Cyndy Hall told The Columbia Paper this week that Ms. Teachout made an appearance at the invitation of county Democrats at the Ghent Town Hall August 28 during a whistle-stop tour of the state. Ms. Hall said county Democrats also invited the governor, who will be coming at a later date. She said “a packed house” was on hand for what was an “interesting discussion.” When the event was over many Democrats departed, leaving “no quorum” and therefore no gubernatorial endorsement was made.

Ms. Hall did voice support for Philip J. Malone, an East Greenbush town councilman, who is running on the Democratic line for the Assembly seat in the 107th district in November against Republican incumbent Assemblyman Steven F. McLaughlin.

Mr. Malone is also seeking the Working Families and Independence party lines in the primary election. On both primary ballots, his name appears on the ballot above an empty space for a write-in (called as OTB or option to ballot) candidate. The 107th Assembly District covers the Columbia County towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook and New Lebanon.

Ms. Hall called Mr. Malone, who is in the solar energy business, a “dynamic candidate,” a “refreshing, positive voice,” who is addressing issues that affect farmers, families and working people, such as, energy, agriculture, education and jobs.

As for the governor’s slot on the primary ballot, Ms. Hall said, “Let’s see what the results are” and that local Democrats will support the Democratic nominee.

The countywide primary election is for enrolled voters in the Democratic Party and, in select towns, for voters in the Conservative, Working Families, and Independence parties. It takes place Tuesday, September 9. Polls are open from noon until 9 p.m. All poll sites in the county will be open.

The countywide Democratic primary is for governor and for lieutenant governor. Each office is voted on separately.

The Conservative primary is in the 102nd Assembly District, which includes the towns of Stockport and Stuyvesant, and is for delegate to the party’s September judicial convention.

Voters who are enrolled in the Republican or Green parties do not have a primary election, nor do voters enrolled in the Conservative, Working Families, or Independence parties who do not live in the 102nd or 107th Assembly Districts. Voters who are not enrolled in a party (NOP), often described as “independents,” are not eligible to vote in any primary.

A phone call to Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th) for comment on the primary was not returned by press deadline.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

 

 

Hudson Democratic Committee

 

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