Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout was in court Thursday to defend her residency status as a New Yorker. She's facing a tough legal challenge by Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose lawyers say she hasn't been here long enough to run for governor. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
After failing to win the Working Families Party nomination for governor, Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout decided to run against Andrew Cuomo as a Democrat in the September 9 primary.
In order to run for the state's highest office, however, a candidate must have lived in New York for the last five years by Election Day. Cuomo's campaign is claiming in court that Teachout falls short of that requirement.
"I think what it shows is that in the wake of a real scandal, and the missteps of the Moreland Commission, Andrew Cuomo is scared, and he would rather that I'm not on the ballot," Teachout said.
Teachout was called as the first witness by former state Senator Martin Connor, an election lawyer who is working on behalf of the Cuomo campaign. Teachout claims to have moved to New York in 2009, the first year when she would needed to have lived here in order to meet the residency requirement, but that year, she obtained a driver's license from Vermont.
Q: When did you later get the Vermont driver's license?
A: I was just trying to remember that and I can't, I couldn't put a pinpoint on it. So I'd say I think it was sometime, and to the best of my recollection - I'm using that phrase because I am under oath - it was in the late summer or fall of 2009.
Teachout switched her license to New York just this past May, when she was deciding to run for governor.
During testimony, Teachout also revealed that she didn't have a residence of her own in New York until 2011. As recently as last year, she provided a police officer with a Vermont address after being stopped for a traffic infraction.
Letting his lawyers do the fighting, the governor, meanwhile, has made few official campaign stops, at least in the New York City area, but his running mate, Kathy Hochul, was in Manhattan again Thursday, this time to receive the endorsement of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who had praise for Cuomo.
"I'm a big fan of Andrew Cuomo," Pelosi said. "He is a fighter. He's gotten things done. And I want to tell you, marriage equality was such a big victory. It was about who we are."
The hearing will resume on Friday. The Teachout defense team is expected to make their case. They plan on calling Teachout's mother to the witness stand. She is a judge in Vermont.