Zephyr Teachout, the left-wing law professor with a Pynchonesque name who rose to prominence in 2014 after mounting a surprising primary challenge against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, announced on Monday that she was running for US Congress.
Her campaign against Cuomo can be seen as a kind of prelude to Bernie Sanders's current primary challenge against Hillary Clinton. Like Sanders, Teachout was dismissed as being too left-wing to be a serious candidate—she didn't even earn the nomination of the progressive Working Families Party—and, like Sanders, she supports single-payer healthcare, taxing the rich, and getting big money out of politics. Despite having no name recognition, no experience in holding political office, and barely any money, she ran against Cuomo and earned 34 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
Now Teachout is going to run for a more achievable office: the seat of New York's 19th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Chris Gibson isn't seeking reelection. The 19th is that rare thing, a swing district where either a Democrat or a Republican could win; a press release from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a PAC that has been trying to convince her to run, touted Teachout's success against Cuomo among area voters as a reason she could actually win the thing.
The rural district is far upstate from Brooklyn, where Teachout has an apartment (she also has a house in Dover Plains), and it may be difficult to convince prospective constituents of her local ties. "Teachout grew up in a rural Vermont county a few hours from her home in Dutchess County," emphasized the press release. In any case, Teachout's jumping into the race makes the 19th District one of the most interesting races in the state, if not the country.