I didn’t say it here, but a week or so ago I was thinking (honestly, I was) that if Zephyr Teachout managed to win a quarter of the Democratic primary vote against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, it would be a solid blow for progressivism. If she got a third of the vote, it would be a victory. She got 34%, and I haven’t seen any news source or commentary that doesn’t regard her showing as something of a black eye for Cuomo.
Cuomo spent around 25 times as much on the campaign as Teachout ($11-15 million vs. $500,000). As the incumbent, he unsurprisingly had the fairly unanimous support of the Democratic party establishment—both US Senators, practically the entire state Congressional delegation, and even national Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, both of whom did robocalls for Cuomo. So did NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio. (There is some understandable annoyance on the left with DeBlasio’s role in this campaign, but I can’t really blame him: the mayor of New York City pretty much has to support a governor of his own party. The City would suffer if he didn’t. I strongly suspect that DeBlasio is contemplating Cuomo’s black eye with secret pleasure: it strengthens the mayor in his inevitable future haggles with the governor.) The Cuomo campaign put on an especially intense effort for Cuomo’s lieutenant-governor running mate, Kathy Hochul, who seemed to be in some danger of losing, but finished only a few percentage points behind Cuomo.
The primary result sends a loud message that much if not most of the party’s base is looking for a real assault on concentrated business power and inequality. Just imagine if Cuomo had been challenged by a well-known, reasonably well financed figure!
Teachout showed very impressive upstate support, winning over 20 counties outside the City. It is especially gratifying to me that she practically swept two of my favorite regions, the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks, with solid and mostly lopsided majorities in Putnam , Duchess, Ulster, Greene, Columbia and Albany counties. Clearly, an uncompromisingly progressive message can appeal to country folk as well as to urban liberals.