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In visit to Ithaca, little-known challenger to Gov. Cuomo promises ‘upset of the century’


Ithaca, N.Y. — Zephyr Teachout, who is competing against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary, visited Ithaca on Saturday.

The Fordham law professor gave a speech to a crowd of about 30 before taking a tour of the Farmers Market. Preceding the speech was an announcement that Teachout had received the endorsement of former Binghamton mayor Matthew Ryan, which she described as her biggest endorsement to date.

Touching on a host of issues, Teachout looked to highlight the flaws of the Cuomo administration while presenting her alternatives. She said her greatest challenge in the race was name recognition.

Cuomo’s program Start Up New York , which seeks to attract business to New York primarily by creating tax-free zones within the state, was a main target for Teachout.

She described the program as, “top-down, trickle-down Reaganism.”

“It seeks to bring in business from outside of New York while ignoring the business that is already here,” she said. “We need to invest in the people of New York rather than trying to attract people from out of the state.”

Teachout said she is a staunch opponent of Cuomo’s property tax cap , of which both officials within the Ithaca City School District and administrative members of Tompkins County have been critical.

The policy, Teachout said, “takes power away from local counties and puts it in the hands of Albany.”

Teachout condemned Cuomo’s alleged tampering with the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, while brushing aside her own legal questions. Teachout’s status as a New York State resident has been under attack by the Cuomo campaign, which challenged her to prove in court that she had lived in New York the required five years. Teachout said she’s unconcerned about the challenge.

She said she believed that the paradigm of power in New York State between counties and the state was backwards. She explained that greater funding should come from the state, while greater power should go to the counties.

This position led her to support full state funding for Medicaid, rather than county contributions, and a shift to state funding for rural public transportation.

Her stance on environmental issues was made clear. She said that as governor she would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, and put her full support behind wind, solar, and hydro energy.

“I would ensure that there would not be another parking lot built in the state that is not solar power dependent,” she added.

Teachout remains relatively unknown in New York. A poll conducted in July suggested that only two in ten New Yorkers had heard of her.

However, Teachout remains optimistic.

“We’re going to pull off the upset of the century.”

The Democratic primary is slated for September 9.