An attempt by supporters of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to knock challenger Zephyr Teachout off next month’s Democratic ballot was dismissed Monday by a Brooklyn judge who ruled the liberal law professor met a residency requirement.
State Supreme Court Justice Edgar Walker turned aside arguments that Teachout did not meet the state’s five-year residency standard since she has lived in New York since taking a job at Fordham University in 2009.
“The lawsuit backfired,” Teachout said Monday. “We have enormous momentum here.”
Martin Connor, an attorney representing the Cuomo supporters, said they will appeal the ruling. The primary is Sept. 9.
Teachout repeated her call for Cuomo to debate her. Her campaign threatens to embarrass Cuomo’s plans for an easy re-election by highlighting concerns from some left-leaning Democrats that he has strayed from Democratic principles by supporting business-friendly tax cuts and charter schools.
Teachout, who lives in Brooklyn, said she has spent time during the summers in Vermont, where she was raised and where her family still lives.
The residency challenge was filed by Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht, two registered Democrats from suburban New York.
“Teachout has clearly ‘lived’ in New York, as that term is commonly understood, in order to pursue her career as a Fordham professor,” Walker wrote Monday. He cited credible evidence that she has lived in a half-dozen New York City apartments since June 2009 after accepting the law school position, despite weekend trips, summer vacations “and brief sojourns teaching courses in other states,” he wrote.
In court last week, Connor questioned Teachout about why she waited until this year to obtain a New York driver’s license and pointed to a 2012 campaign finance record on which she had listed an old Vermont address. She called it a harmless error.
Connor also questioned her about a 2009 tax return that asked how many months she had lived in New York at the time of the filing. She originally answered zero months but recently amended the return to change it to six months.
Polls show her campaign remains unknown to many voters.
The winner of the primary will face Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.