Ready for Hillary? Not so fast.
Zephyr Teachout, fresh off her strong second-place showing in the Democratic primary against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, pleaded for more Democratic candidates to challenge the presumed 2016 frontrunner. “Please, we need people to run against Hillary Clinton because if she’s not debating anyone on education policy or on tax policy then we all lose,” she told MSNBC’s Krystal Ball on Wednesday.
“Not only does she need a challenger from the left, we should have 5 people—10 people—running for president,” she argued. “If we don’t have a Democratic Party challenger, that is a democratic tragedy.”
Armed with an “efficient” campaign staff and tiny war chest, Teachout won an impressive one third of the Democratic vote in last week’s primary against incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo– the best showing for a primary challenger to an incumbent governor in the state’s history. The Fordham Law professor mobilized the state’s populist Democrats, focusing on inequality, education, and the environment.
When asked what resonated with New York’s Democratic base that was representative of a national insurgency on the left, Teachout pointed to frustration with Cuomo’s “trickle-down” tax policy. “[Cuomo]’s basically a Republican when it comes to economic policy—all tax breaks for wealthy companies.” she told Krystal Clear.
Teachout said attacks on public education are also rallying progressives across the country. “Since 2008 there have been all these attacks on public education, including attacks by Democrats,” she told Ball. “I hope it shows you can’t do this with impunity…You don’t want to be on the other side of parents and teachers.”
But despite her strong opposition to Cuomo’s “corporatist” agenda, Teachout didn’t rule out endorsing him. When asked whether she’d support Cuomo or Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins in the general election, Teachout hedged, saying her current focus is squarely on winning back the New York Senate for Democrats.
Teachout is not shutting the door on another chance to represent New Yorkers herself, though. Ball asked her if she’d consider a 2016 primary challenge to New York’s senior Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer—known as “Wall Street Chuck” on Capitol Hill – and Teachout laughed, saying she hadn’t thought about it. But she did say this: “I am definitely going to run for office again.”