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Teachout Wins NY 19 Democratic Primary

Democrat Zephyr Teachout
WAMC, Allison Dunne

Zephyr Teachout has defeated Will Yandik in the Democratic primary in New York’s 19th congressional district. She faces Republican John Faso, who beat Andrew Heaney in the Republican primary. The seat is open as Republican Chris Gibson chose not to seek re-election.

Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor who challenged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, says it’s a lot more fun to win on primary day. In her victory speech, she called it one of the most humbling, happiest days of her life. She also dove right into campaigning against former state Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

“John Faso is an Albany assemblyman turned lobbyist,” Teachout says. “He is the ultimate insider.”

Teachout delivered her speech at the 1921Senate Garage in uptown Kingston, a now industrial event venue next to the historic Senate House, where New York government was born.

“We were building a resilient, spirited, grounded fighting force that is ready for anything John Faso throws our way,” says Teachout.

Teachout handily defeated Livingston Town Deputy Supervisor Will Yandik who, in a statement, says he is proud of the campaign he ran and the issues raised. Working Families Party New York issued a statement on Teachout’s victory that begins with “Score one for the political revolution.” Asked whether she would get help from Senator Bernie Sanders, Teachout says her focus has been on building a grassroots base.

“People are so sick of what’s happening in Washington, but trusted communities are really key,” says Teachout.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who last year decided he would not launch a congressional run in the 19th, despite the urging of all the county Democratic chairs in the district that stretches across 11 counties, introduced Teachout primary night.  

“We’re really looking at the opportunity not just to make a difference right here in our district but to truly make a difference nationally,” says Hein. “Her election could be pivotal in being able to make sure the Democratic Party once again has control in the House of Representatives and bring sanity back to what has been an absolutely stagnant and broken government.”

Again, Teachout.

“I have been fighting side by side with community leaders against fracking, for renewable energy, against Common Core, for reinvestment in public schools,” Teachout says. “I’m going to take that same spirit to Washington and fight for those mid-size farms, the good jobs that we need, against NAFTA, all of which is going to be critical to revitalizing this area.”

Meira Blaustein attended the Teachout primary party. Although she is co-founder and executive director of the Woodstock Film Festival, she stresses that her comments are hers alone.

“Zephyr is the new Elizabeth Warren,” says Blaustein. “Zephyr is a woman who’s ethical and with conviction who’s going to lead this district to a positive, progressive future.”

Elisa Sumner is chair of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee.

“Dutchess County does have a record of running women,” Sumner says. “Last year we ran all-women slate. And we reached out to Zephyr to run this year, we don’t only run women, but we definitely have that in mind.”

In the Republican primary in the 18th Congressional District, Phil Oliva, advisor to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, defeated Hoboken International Film Festival Chairman Kenneth Del Vecchio. Oliva faces incumbent Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney in November. Maloney is seeking re-election to a third term in a district that includes Orange and Putnam Counties and parts of Dutchess and Westchester.  

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