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Teachout visits Callicoon Center; Vows to stay on ballot

Michael Chojnicki discusses solar power and other issues with Zephyr Teachout, who wants to become the Democratic candidate for governor of New York State, and is running in the September 9 primary election.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
August 6, 2014

CALLICOON CENTER, NY — “If this room delivers the anti-fracking vote, you will change the election.” Zephyr Teachout, a candidate who would like to become the Democratic candidate to become governor of New York State in the primary election on September 9, made that statement to about 75 supporters at a private home in Callicoon Center on August 2.

In the room were representatives of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper, filmmaker Josh Fox, and many others.

That anti-fracking line elicited a healthy round of applause and Teachout, a law professor who has been active in various political realms, has supported a permanent ban on fracking in the state.

Her visit came in the wake of a New York Times story that accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aid of interfering with investigations being pursued by the Moreland Commission, which was created by Cuomo in July 2013.

The article said, “The New York Times found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.”

The shutting down of the commission is now being investigated by federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, and he has threatened to investigate Cuomo for other possible offences.

Teachout spent some time addressing the matter, and called Cuomo’s reaction to the investigation “junior league” and “bizarre.” She then noted that Cuomo has said he is no longer going to publicly discuss the matter. She said, “You know you have a problem when you’re governor has taken the Fifth [Amendment] on a corruption investigation.”

She then brought the conversation back to fracking. She said, “You guys know about this silence. You’ve taken it to Albany, you’ve told that story time and time again, you told it in letters to the editor, you’ve told it in film, you’ve told it in meetings, you’ve told it in private and still the response is, he’s not answering, and that is not leadership.”

Teachout said that Cuomo is challenging her presence on the Democratic ballot, and then addressed how she might attempt drawing the governor into a public debate.

She said, “After we survive the ballot challenge—we’re going to survive—that’s when we’re going to do a serious debate challenge, and may do some empty chair work and may debate other candidates, just to get the debate going. But the key with Cuomo is The New York Times covering me every three or four days.”