In a tighter-than-expected race, Governor Andrew Cuomo has defeated his long-shot Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout. With 41 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press is declaring the governor the victor. His pick for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, has also defeated Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Although the results are still coming in, Teachout and Wu did far better than expected; Teachout looks to have pulled around 35.5 percent of the vote to Cuomo’s 60. Wu did slightly better, 39 percent to Hochul’s 60. The third gubernatorial candidate in the running, comedian Randy Credico, came away with about 4 percent of the vote.
Teachout and Wu campaigned intensely, hitting Cuomo on the Moreland Commission scandal every chance they could. Their efforts moved her poll numbers, but only slightly: A July Marist poll found that about 81 percent of voters were unfamiliar with her. By August, it was 78 percent.
Cuomo campaigned almost not at all, telling reporters at one point, a week before the primary, “The campaign season hasn’t really started yet.” He voted in Mount Kisco this morning and, according to a schedule released by his office, spent the day in New York and Westchester County, while Hochul spent the day in the city and West New York. Teachout and Wu, meanwhile, tooled around the city meeting voters by bike:
Just before 6 p.m., Teachout told the Voice in a brief phone call, “I’m feeling fantastic. You know, nobody knows what’s gonna happen tonight. But it’s been a wonderful day.”
The governor did not have an election-night party scheduled and did not make a victory speech. Earlier in the evening, New York 1 engaged in what Inside City Hall host Errol Louis dryly called “a political guessing game,” i.e., trying to find out where the governor physically was as the poll results came in. They looked for him at his Midtown offices, without success. Later, camped outside the governor’s mansion, they reported seeing a light on and, possibly, a TV flickering.
Cuomo’s victory means he’s successfully made it through the entire campaign without ever mentioning Teachout’s name or publicly interacting with her. Their battle may be over, but we’ll always have the enduring image of the governor desperately trying to avoid eye contact or the terror of shaking her hand during the Labor Day Parade.
Wu is still suing the State Democratic Committee for what he and Teachout allege was improper spending on pro-Cuomo campaign mailers. The next court date in that case is in October. Meanwhile, Teachout has a book out this month on corruption in America.
Update, 10:52 p.m.:
Governor Cuomo has issued a victory statement, in which he uses Teachout’s name for the first time. Here it is in full:
I want to congratulate Kathy Hochul on coming one step closer to becoming New York’s first female Democratic Lieutenant Governor in 35 years. Throughout her career, Kathy has been a fighter for women, working families and Western New York, the place she’s always called home. She will make an outstanding Lieutenant Governor and I couldn’t be more proud to have her join our team.
Today’s outcome is a testament to the progress we have made together over the last four years: restoring economic opportunity, replacing dysfunction with results, putting people before politics and re-establishing New York as a progressive leader for the nation. I also want to congratulate Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu on running a spirited campaign, engaging in the democratic process and having the courage to make their voices heard.
Now as we turn to the general election, the contrast between the vision Kathy and I have for New York and that of the Republican nominees could not be clearer. Elections are about choices. But this isn’t just a choice between two candidates or two parties; this November is a choice between two very different paths for our state.
We want to build on the success of the last four years; they want to tear New York down and bring back the hyper-partisan gridlock that has ground Washington to a halt. We want to continue the innovative economic development strategies that have created 500,000 new private sector jobs; they want to reverse them. We want to guarantee equal rights for the more than ten million women in our State; they want to roll back the standards established under Roe. v. Wade more than forty years ago. We passed one of the strongest gun laws in the nation and strive to keep dangerous weapons out of children’s hands; they want to repeal it and bring guns into our schools.
Our State can never succeed if we refuse to believe in it. New York is on its way to reclaiming its place as a model for the nation and the world. We must not turn back now. We can and we will continue to create jobs, reduce taxes, invest in education, and make New York a center for opportunity, innovation and equality for all.