POLITICS
01/25/2016 03:50 pm ET

Progressive Activist Zephyr Teachout Running For Congress

"I've never been afraid to stand up for ordinary citizens whose voices are drowned out by special interests, big corporations, and powerful insiders."
Fordham University law professor and liberal activist Zephyr Teachout is running for a congressional seat in New York.
Peter Morgan/Associated Press
Fordham University law professor and liberal activist Zephyr Teachout is running for a congressional seat in New York.

Zephyr Teachout, a progressive law professor and activist who ran for New York governor in 2014, announced Monday that she is launching a bid for Congress.

“Throughout my career, I've never been afraid to stand up for ordinary citizens whose voices are drowned out by special interests, big corporations, and powerful insiders," she said in a statement. "I'm running for Congress to give people their voices back so together we can address the real concerns facing our communities."

Teachout is running in New York's 19th District, which is being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson (R). 

She ran against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Although he defeated her -- 62 percent to 34 percent -- the fact that she was able to pull so much support away from a sitting governor was impressive. She had no previous electoral experience, spent nearly no money and had a bare-bones campaign operation. 

Her populist platform emphasized the anti-corruption and anti-monopoly principles she has long advocated. And she did particularly well in the Hudson Valley, which is where the moderate 19th District is located. 

Teachout already has the backing of the liberal Working Families Party and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, according to the New York Observer. She has also gained the support of the majority of the Democratic county chairs in the district. 

Teachout started in politics when she was director of online organizing for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. 

"[T]he key lesson that I learned in Howard Dean’s campaign was not about technology, but it was about power," she told The Huffington Post in 2014.
"Because we had three months to run this campaign against Andrew Cuomo, we could not build any tools and we did not have any money to buy the best tools. So we used Facebook and Twitter. But otherwise we had a very similar model -- we empowered local groups to do their own organizing, and that made a huge difference because we had a tiny staff until we raised money."

Democrats were unsuccessful at picking up the 19th District in 2014, when Sean Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, moved to the district and purchased a multimillion-dollar house for his run. He was never able to overcome the perception that he was out of touch with the district and simply looking to buy a seat. 

Teachout moved to the 19th District about a year ago, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, and commutes to her job at Fordham University School of Law. 


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