After teasing supporters all last week, Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law professor who challenged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, formally announced her bid for Congress Tuesday.
Teachout, whose unsuccessful attempt to unseat the governor had galvanized many Democrats backing her stance against controversial education reform, Common Core, will seek to represent the state’s 19th district, which she carried in her gubernatorial contest, and which comprises parts of 11 upstate and Hudson Valley counties. The seat will be vacated by Chris Gibson, a Republican who announced last year he would not seek reelection in November.
“I’ve shown that I’m not afraid to be independent and stand up to political insiders, and I’m not willing to give up,” she texted the Press Tuesday. “The people of the 19th aren’t willing to give up—every day I see people creating their own media, sharing their stories, and demanding their voice back.”
Teachout’s insurgent run for governor resulted in impressive numbers, securing 34 percent of the overall vote—a significant total representing tens of thousands of dissatisfied voters–and a tribute to her campaign prowess since she’d never run for public officer before. Though her popularity can surely be credited to her progressive stand on such issues as public campaign financing and hydrofracking, Teachout’s outspoken opposition to Common Core was undoubtedly largely responsible for her remarkable showing—fueled by a loyal core of parents and teachers who saw her challenge to Cuomo as a rejection of standardized testing and its disastrous roll-out.
“I’m running to raise up the voices of people who are shut out—and that includes the voices of parents and teachers,” she declared. “As you know, education policy will be important in my campaign. And, as Congressperson.”
Hundreds of thousands of parents opted their children out of taking the Common Core exams last year, with rallies and highly charged protests against Coumo and the initiative held across the state. It’s a subject that still resonates with families throughout New York.
Shortly after announcing her congressional run, Teachout posted on Facebook that she’d already received 1,257 contributions in just 28 hours—more than double her initial goal.
“I’ve learned so much talking to parents and teachers over the last few years, and I look forward to learning even more,” she said.
Teachout reportedly won’t face a Democratic primary. John Faso, a former Assembly minority leader, and Andrew Heaney, an investor, are both vying for the Republican nomination.