U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders rallied Friday in New Paltz for Zephyr Teachout, the Democratic candidate for the 19th Congressional district seat. It’s a race that has drawn national attention. Sanders repeated some of the themes from his presidential campaign, saying Teachout believes in the same. With the State University of New York at New Paltz one block from the park, many of those in attendance were college students.
Local band Yard Sale warmed up the crowd at Hasbrouck Park in New Paltz before Senator Bernie Sanders took the stage.
“If Zephyr Teachout is elected to the U.S. Congress, and I’m very confident you are going to elect her, you will have a leader in Congress at a time when we are in desperate need of bold leadership,” Sanders said. “You will have a leader who has the guts to stand up to the billionaire class and tell these greedy people that they cannot have it all.”
The Vermont senator last appeared in the Hudson Valley when he was a Democratic presidential candidate. He rallied at Marist College in Poughkeepsie in April. Now, in New Paltz and rallying for Teachout, Sanders underscored the fundraising efforts between Teachout and her Republican opponent John Faso, noting two billionaires who have contributed a combined $1 million to a super PAC that supports Faso’s campaign. [updated 9/19 to clarify contributions were to a super PAC]
“Now I was pretty proud that our average contribution for the presidential race was 27 bucks,” said Sanders. “Turns out that Zephyr’s average contribution is less than that, $19.”
When the crowd chanted “Bernie,” Sanders had some advice.
“Well, thank you. That Bernie has now got to be transferred to Zephyr,” said Sanders.
“I was so happy to endorse Bernie Sanders last year but nearly as happy as I am today to have Bernie Sanders join us in this critical race in the 19th Congressional District,” Teachout said.
Teachout, a Fordham law professor, lives in Dutchess County but has been painted by Faso as a carpetbagger from Brooklyn. In New Paltz, though, Teachout was surrounded by only supporters.
“The idea of our democracy is that a congressional representative listens to all of your voices — Democrat, Republican, Independent — respects your voices and takes those voices to Washington,” said Teachout. “So I just want to warn you, when I go to Washington as your representative, you’re all coming along with me.”
The rally came one day after the first of three debates between Teachout and Columbia County resident Faso, hosted by WAMC. After the rally, Faso spoke with reporters outside a firehouse in New Paltz.
“I think it’s pretty apparent that Ms. Teachout’s views are socialist in her inclinations on the economy. She brought in the nation’s preeminent socialist, Bernie Sanders,” Faso said. “And I’m reminded of the old phrase of Margaret Thatcher that the only trouble with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
Faso was asked whether any big names would be rallying for him.
“Well, you can stay tuned on that,” said Faso.
SUNY New Paltz student Eli Campbell attended the Teachout rally.
“I was concerned after Bernie got out of the race that my generation would stop paying attention to politics but I’m hoping that people in New Paltz will vote for Zephyr Teachout and will continue the political revolution,” Campbell said.
Joel Neden teaches journalism at New Paltz High School.
“And we brought about 75 students from New Paltz High School today,” Neden said.
“For what reason?” asks Dunne.
“We talk a lot about history. We ask them to watch the news. And now we want them to be a part of something, and we want them to be part of a political experience,” Neden said.