Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Who's Afraid of a Zephyr?

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As the invisible campaign for governor floats on, a Brooklyn courtroom today may be the only venue for a Democratic primary debate in the campaign.

It's there that the governor's legal team is gathering to take on Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who has had the temerity to try to get her name on the ballot for next month's primary.

To battle Teachout, Cuomo has hired Marty Connor, an election lawyer whose own political career in the State Senate ended after losing in a primary. Connor is arguing that Teachout shouldn't be able to be on the ballot because she hasn't lived in New York for five years – a requirement for a candidate for governor.

So expect to hear arguments that might be aired at the dinner table surrounding the whereabouts of a teen-age daughter: does couch-surfing count as living in New York? What about that month in a Manhattan sublet? Does a performance in a Samuel Beckett play in Vermont prove that Teachout has no allegiance to the Empire State?

It's all a little sad and silly given that these rules - which don't apply to candidates running for Congress - would have excluded Hillary Clinton from running for Senate when she moved to New York by buying a house in Westchester just a year before her election in 2000. And would Bobby Kennedy have prevailed over this five-year residency rule in his 1964 Senate run?

Maybe the governor is afraid of saying her name and somehow magically summoning her but Cuomo is doing all he can to pretend to ignore Teachout while spending tens of thousands of dollars to try to get rid of her.

Perhaps Cuomo remembers 1994 when his father, Mario, saw activist Lenora Fulani somehow get 20 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for governor – signaling that there were some chinks in his three-term armor when he would later go on to lose in the general election to a little-known Republican from Westchester.

There's no question that a liberal contingent of New Yorkers is angry with the governor and interested in Teachout's candidacy; they should also be closely watching what Cuomo is up to in court today.

Bob Hardt

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