ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - An attempt by supporters of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to knock challenger Zephyr Teachout off next month’s Democratic ballot was dismissed Monday by a judge in Brooklyn who ruled the liberal law professor met a residency requirement.
State Supreme Court Justice Edgar Walker turned aside arguments that Teachout did not meet the state’s five-year residency standard.
Teachout had insisted that she met the requirement, saying she has lived in New York since taking a job at Fordham University in 2009.
“The lawsuit backfired,” Teachout said Monday. “We have enormous momentum here.”
Martin Connor, an attorney representing the Cuomo supporters, said they will appeal the ruling. The primary is Sept. 9.
Teachout repeated her call for Cuomo to debate her, saying there’s no excuse now. New York Democrats want a choice and deserve a debate about education, schools, gas drilling and corruption, she said.
Teachout’s campaign threatens to embarrass Cuomo’s plans for an easy re-election by highlighting concerns from some left-leaning Democrats that he has strayed from Democratic principles by supporting business-friendly tax cuts and charter schools.
Teachout, who lives in Brooklyn, said she has spent time during the summers in Vermont, where she was raised and where her family still lives.
The residency challenge was filed by Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht, two registered Democrats from suburban New York City.
“Teachout has clearly ‘lived’ in New York, as that term is commonly understood, in order to pursue her career as a Fordham professor,” Walker wrote Monday. He cited credible evidence that she has lived in a half-dozen New York City apartments since June 2009 after accepting the law school position, despite weekend trips, summer vacations “and brief sojourns teaching courses in other states,” he wrote.
In court last week, Connor questioned Teachout about why she waited until this year to obtain a New York driver’s license and pointed to a 2012 campaign finance record on which she had listed an old Vermont address. She called it a harmless error.
Connor also questioned her about a 2009 tax return that asked how many months she had lived in New York at the time of the filing. She originally answered zero months but recently amended the return to change it to six months.
Teachout mounted her bid to oust Cuomo after losing the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party this spring. Cuomo won the backing of the party after noting his work to pass gay marriage and gun control laws and promising to work for a higher minimum wage and broad public campaign financing.
Polls show her campaign remains unknown to many voters.
The Democratic primary ballot will include a third candidate, comedian and drug law critic Randy Credico.
Other contenders in the governor’s race include Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.
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