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Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo for governor, declares her candidacy for New York attorney general

Zephyr Teachout will be a 2022 candidate for New York attorney general.
Jason DeCrow
Associated Press
Zephyr Teachout will be a 2022 candidate for New York attorney general.

Perennial progressive candidate and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout has formally announced that she will run for state attorney general in the 2022 election.

Teachout, who got her degrees at Yale and Duke universities and grew up in Vermont, is better known to New Yorkers for her campaigns for political office.

Teachout primaried then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014 as a progressive Democratic candidate, getting 36% of the vote. She also unsuccessfully ran for Congress and in the 2018 primary for attorney general — where she lost to Letitia James.

James is now running for governor, which leaves the attorney general’s seat open.

Teachout said if she wins the post, her top priority would be fighting corruption.

“I will go after politicians who lie and who think they are above the law,” Teachout said. “You know I will not stand for it.”

She said she also wants to take on big corporations that abuse their authority, including the pharmaceutical industry and big tech, as well as polluters. She said she would also fight to protect voting rights and further racial equality.

Teachout, who said she has the support of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who prosecuted the George Floyd murder trial, was joined at her announcement by progressive politicians in New York state.

Among them were Assemblyman Ron Kim, who tangled with Cuomo over deaths in nursing homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. The ex-governor and his aides are accused of hiding the true number of deaths of nursing home residents during the pandemic. Cuomo resigned in August over a sexual harassment scandal.

Kim said he trusts Teachout to help protect the elderly.

He said other political leaders discouraged him from taking on the then-powerful governor.

“They told me to shut up, they told me to back down against Cuomo’s corruption,” Kim said. “But you know who was there with me from day one? Zephyr Teachout was there.”

Teachout is likely to face competition in the June Democratic primary. Others who have expressed interest in the job include Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris, Sen. Shelley Mayer, and Maria Vullo, the former superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.