New Yorkers: Take a Stand Against Cronyism and Corruption – Vote for Teachout and Wu Today

A quixotic run for New York governor by the pro-worker, anti-fracking, anti big bank law professor Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, the net neutrality activist Tim Wu has gotten enough traction to lead governor Andrew Cuomo to browbeat likely supporters of the challengers into line. (Read our interviews of Teachout and Wu)

Teachout and Wu got what looked like a lucky break from a Department of Justice investigation into Cuomo’s creation and sudden shuttering of the Moreland Commission, which had been tasked to look into corruption. Cuomo quickly turned the probe into a major controversy by trying to coach witnesses, which as Preet Bharara, the attorney for the Southern District tartly informed Cuomo, walked and quacked like obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

The New York Times has taken this candidacy seriously enough to call on Cuomo to debate Teachout (he didn’t, so Teachout debated an empty chair) and endorsed Wu over Cuomo’s lieutenant governor designee, Kathryn Hochul. But New Yorkers seem to regard corruption as business as usual in New York, so while the scandal has dinged the governor’s approval ratings, he is still expected to win the primary tomorrow handily.

But the unexpected defeat of Eric Cantor shows that primaries can be wild cards. Accordingly, Cuomo has roused himself. Hillary was enlisted to record a robocall to rouse Good Dems to turn out and vote for Cuomo and Hochul. The New York Post reported on how Cuomo reverted to his usual thuggery to stymie endorsements of the challengers (and notice how de Blasio took up the charge):

Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio used threats and intimidation in recent days to block prominent Democrats from backing leftist law professors Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, Tim Wu, in Tuesday’s primary…

The largely successful pressure has been especially intense to stop endorsements for Wu, who is given a real chance of defeating conservative-turned-“progressive” former upstate Rep. Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s running mate for lieutenant governor, insiders said.

“Cuomo and de Blasio were pulling out all stops, making it clear that anyone who even considers endorsing Teachout or Wu will pay a big political price,” said a prominent Democratic activist.

“Cuomo especially is obsessed with Wu because he clearly thinks Wu has a chance to win, which would be a disaster for him,” the activist continued.

City Council members were told that pet projects would be endangered if they back either Teachout or Wu, said a source close to the council. “You wouldn’t believe how much we were intimidated and muscled,’’ said one.

Council members and state legislators were also warned that state-funded projects would be at risk if they publicly backed Teachout or Wu, several sources said.

Note how Wu is seen as a real threat because he’s a highly competent individual running for a largely powerless post. The lieutenant governor can use his office as a bully pulpit, particularly to embarrass the governor, and Cuomo has enough enemies that many relish the idea of denting him enough to prevent him from securing a national office.

But what about the conventional ground for dismissing Teachout, that she’s not experienced enough? This is the political version of Catch-22: to be seen as a viable candidate for a major post, you need to be seasoned. While that may sound plausible, the result is that the contenders depicted as legitimate are insiders, as in they’ve already made the compromises needed to be part of a corrupt system. And it is hardly unheard of for first-time candidates, such as Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwartznegger, Rick Scott and Jesse Ventura, to target and win the governor’s office.

Perversely, the problem Teachout faces isn’t so much her track record as the fact that she has committed herself to such an ambitious reform agenda. She’s set herself a remarkably high set of objectives. But one of the problems with soi disant progressives is that they don’t like the hard work of governing. As Richard Kline wrote in a 2011 post, Progressively Losing:

….progressives are ill-equipped by objective and inclination both to succeed in bare-knuckle political strife. One could say unflatteringly that the goal of ‘progressives’ in activism is to raise their personal karma by standing up for what is right. “Sinners repent,” is the substance of their message, and their best dream would be to have those in the wrong do just that, to embrace progressive issues and implement them. More cynically, one wonders whether progressives would be entirely pleased if all of their reforms were implemented, leaving nothing to inveigh against.

Progressives are at their best educating, advocating, and validating those in need well apart from the fray. There are few cases that readily come to mind where progressives have implemented any contested policy on their own initiative without others of different goals involved. Somebody else has to carry the can for their water to get drawn.

Kline continued by arguing that progressives got their muscle from radicals, meaning out groups that had grievance-oriented demands, centered on personal safety and economic rather than social justice.

The fact that the Teachout/Wu campaign poses any kind of threat to Cuomo is an indicator that the middle class is downtrodden enough that incumbents have good reason to worry about voter rebellion. And as the 2010 Congressional midterms showed, the progressives fared well; it was the Vichy Dems who took big losses.

So time to send a strong message against corruption and in support of economic justice. If you are a Democrat in New York, cast a vote for real change with Teachout and Wu.

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  1. lakewoebegoner

    “But what about the conventional ground for dismissing Teachout, that she’s not experienced enough?”

    Ah yes, the line towed by the NY Times….well, the NY Times (and me though i loathe to admit it) loved the idea of having a 1/3-term senator elected as president…..cuz ya know, change and all that.

  2. lakewoebegoner

    ps, in case my sarcasm doesn’t travel over the intertubes, I’m definitely pro-Teachout…..and i’d argue see has more relevant experience to be NYS governor than Obama had in 2007 to become president.

  3. abynormal

    Kline comment from 9/11/2011: ” the soft middle of the American population does not want to hear valid societal critique. They’ve been told that if they are docile drones, God and the rich will share pie with them in the form of asset appreciation and ‘social stability.’ So they are still waiting for pie. But then, there are always pieholes waiting. My larger point is that they can’t be talked or admonished into action. They have to see action undertaken for some of them to actually participate. And that action has to be organized. It has to have believable, comprehensible goals, at least some of them. And it has to be effective in salient instances at least.

    The problem isn’t a media problem, its an initiative problem. They won’t move until talk turns to walk because, y’know, they’re followers. That’s the point of a vanguard more broadly. —But not a vanguard of beligerant cranks, which is all they expect to see.
    from Kline’s 2011 post…Action not only people see but live:
    Call off the cops (and thugs)
    Eight hour day and work place safety
    Right to organize
    Anti-discrimination in housing and hiring
    Unemployment dole
    Public pensions
    Public educational scholarships
    Tax the rich
    Anti-trust and anti-corporate
    “[T]he ideals and desires of the majority define the structure of society as it is; a would-be mass movement that pursues a different path will reliably find itself failing to attract members, while a mass movement that reshapes its message to attract a large audience will inevitably turn into a mechanism for replicating the existing order of things.” John Michael Greer

    guess we need a stronger message….”I saw America’s economy last night, people raiding dumpsters at a higher rate than normal in my home town. Digging through garbage shouldn’t be a career. Thanks Democrats. Thanks Republicans.” Carroll Bryant

  4. ambrit

    From out in Left field comes this query; what kind of voting machines does NYC use, and are they hackable? If so, a ‘citizens watchdog group’ of hackerati would be in order to keep an eye on the none too trustworthy Coumoistas. (That’s beginning to sound a bit too much like Banana Republic Politics, aint it.)

    1. dandeluca

      I voted this morning in NYC — I was given a big old piece of paper and had to fill in two ovals with a pen, and then scan the piece of paper in a scanner. Delightfully low-tech, but who knows what database lies behind those scanners.

      1. ambrit

        I hear you fellow citizen.
        Thanks though for taking the time to vote in an election with a clear choice front and centre.
        The code running those scanners is a question, yes. (Does the NYC voting system allow for hand recounts? That could get interesting.)
        Down here in Mississippi, the Pseudo Dems helped re-elect the old guard Republican senator by calling out the Dem faithful and telling them, from Baptist pulpits no less, to vote for him lest his Tea Party challenger, who won the vote in a three way primary, get to run against the Dem candidate this November. All this in an ostensibly Republican primary run off. The local rules allow anyone to vote in a primary or run off of any party as long as they haven’t already locked themselves into one party or the other in the initial round of voting. Thus, if you’re a Dem and didn’t vote in the primary, you can vote in the Rep run off. They did so and, all ‘pundits’ agreed, made a crucial difference in the incumbents win. (Right now, in Mississippi, the Republicans are considered shoo-ins in most statewide general elections.)
        Vote early and vote often! (Walking around money available on request.)

      2. different clue

        Filling in the two analog ovals with an analog pen is very important. It is called a “legal paper ballot”.
        Unless those ballots are destroyed, they can be checked and hand-counted against a fishy digital-counting result.

  5. JohnnyGL

    For those in MA, please consider a vote for Don Berwick. If you’ve watched the debates at all, he’s been snorting flames for single-payer with such conviction that he’s managed to drag Steve Grossman to the left on the issue. He’s also firmly anti-casino. Even a columnist in the Globe (which has tried to ignore him while giving him enough attention to be polite) pointed out that he was having an influence on the conversation and livened up what’s otherwise been a fairly bland primary race.

    Also, if you’re not pro-Berwick, at least be anti-Coakley. She’s still as awful as she was in 2010 when she blew the race against Scott Brown. And since then, she’s signed on for Obama’s ‘let’s not argue about who robbed whom deal’ on chain of title mortgage abuses. She’s also blatantly against a referendum on casino gambling, and (my personal grudge) she waived through Cerberus buying the Caritas hospital chain a few years back. Now, a for-profit hospital chain (run by private equity jackals, no less) has been welcomed into our health care provider scene.

    1. RUKidding

      Ah yes, Coakly! Yet another LOTE vote.

      When I suggest to people that they should vote what is deliberately misleadingly called “third party,” I get the usual bunkum:

      1. They’re not “seasoned” enough
      2. They don’t have the “connections” to actually run the govt !! (said without irony, too)
      3. I would waste my vote bc that person won’t win

      Good little authoritarians one & all.

      Not in NYC but have followed Teachout’s campaign with interest. Wishing her well. Would love to see her win.

  6. Jim Haygood

    … (Cuomo didn’t [debate], so Teachout debated an empty chair) …

    Empty chair? Hell, I’d have put a bag of manure on that chair, then addressed it as ‘listen, you sack of sh*t.’

    But that’s why I’m not in politics. ;-)

  7. hunkerdown

    So, no peep on exit polls at 5:40pm. Is there a law against that in NY, or is the news just That Bad for the Establishment?

  8. hunkerdown

    62-34-4 Cuomo with 24.3% reporting, per Politico (lacking a more convenient source). 14 points is a long way….

    1. Lambert Strether

      Hard for Cuomo to spin that as a triumph, though. Even though his baseline of 51% sets the expectations game about as low as it can go. 34% from an unfunded rank amateur who came out of nowhere?

      Here are the counties; Teachout is actually winning some of them. 40% in Manhattan with only 1/3 counted, though Cuomo winning the Bronx and Brooklyn (!!!) handily.

      I don’t know which votes tend to get counted first, so I don’t know how to call the progress of the count.

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