Zephyr Teachout

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Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout (born October 21, 1971) is an American academic and political activist and candidate. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University. A supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In August 2015, Teachout became CEO and board chair for the campaign finance reform-oriented Super PAC Mayday PAC, replacing Lawrence Lessig. She stepped down from this position in December 2015 to run for the United States House of Representatives in New York's 19th congressional district.Teachout won the Democratic primary, and she will face Republican John Faso in the November 8, 2016 general election.

She ran for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of New York in 2014 and lost to incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo, receiving 34% of the primary vote.

Our Revolution endorsement

Zephyr Teachout was endorsed by Our Revolution, an organization run by former campaign workers and supporters of former socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[1]


Zephyr Teachout is a Berniecrat, a term used for those democrats (generally) running for office who have expressed support of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[2]

People for Bernie staffer

In 2016 Aly Johnson-Kurts, Former staff, Teachout-Wu campaign, was a leader of People for Bernie.

Left Forum 2012

Inside/outside strateqies and electoral government: Campaign Finance Relorm as case study

Labor left Forum

Zephyr Teachout addressed a Labor Left Forum, in New York, on the 2014 Elections & Looking Forward to 2016, sometime in late 2014.[3]

Law & Inequality Conference

Robert Hockett October 17, 2015:


Here's Gerald just before his panel discussion at this weekend's remarkable Law & Inequality Conference at YLS. How inspiring to present along with, and learn from, dear friends and comrades including David, Jedediah Purdy, Zephyr Teachout, Frank Pasquale, Daniel Markovits, Willy Forbath, Joey Fishkin, Goodwin Liu, and many others including beloved Cornell colleagues Gerald and Saule Omarova. Lina and her ACS colleagues were also superb - not only as organizers and administrators, but also as participants. Many warm thanks and congratulations, dear friends. — with Gerald Torres.

Communist Party connections

2014 Better World Awards banquet

The Friends of the People's World hosted its yearly fundraiser Dec. 8, 2014, the Better World Awards.

Hearty salutes to striking fast food workers and the tens of thousands protesting the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner paid by Jarvis Tyner district chair of the New York Communist Party, and others quickly warmed the crowd as the program honoring Cormanita Mahr, Vice President of United Healthcare Workers East (SEIU 1199), Zephyr Teachout a candidate for governor of NY, Reverend Danilo Lachapel, director of Give Them to Eat Ministry and New York CP labor leader Bill Davis, got underway.

The event was MC'd by Estevan Nembhard-Bassett, the New York CPUSA organizer.

Teachout, argued that campaign finance reform can be achieved through antitrust reform. Antitrust legislation can be seen as a form of indirect campaign finance reform by limiting the power of corporations to influence elections, she said.

Commenting on taxes, Teachout said, "I would roll back the tax cuts Governor Cuomo handed the wealthy few. We should extend the millionaire's tax beyond 2017, to ensure we can fund our schools and public programs for the long-term. We should bring back a form of the bank tax, and review the corporate tax system, to ensure companies pay their fair share.".[4]

Panel with communist


Zephyr Teachout with Estevan Nembhard, 2017.

Communist Party enthusiasm


DSA connections

Socialist congratulations


Ocasio-Cortez endorsement

Zephyr Teachout, a candidate for New York attorney general endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in May.[5]

DSA staffers

Charles Lenchner was the digital director for Zephyr Teachout’s primary challenge to Gov. Cuomo in 2014 and has been a member of Democratic Socialists of America since roughly the same time. [6]

David A. Lee was Queens Field Organizer at Zephyr Teachout.

Wymer connection


Eric Wymer with Zephyr Teachout.

PowerPAC+ 2016 Endorsements

PowerPAC+ 2016 endorsements;

Working Families Party connections

Cuomo deal

In 2014, when Andrew Cuomo stood for reelection, the party had recruited a candidate to challenge him in the Democratic primary—a law professor and Occupy Wall Street leader named Zephyr Teachout. But when it came time for the WFP to make an endorsement and bestow its ballot line, the party was badly divided. Its old ally Bill de Blasio, now the city’s mayor, brokered a deal whereby Cuomo would get the WFP endorsement in exchange for a series of promises, such as campaigning for Democratic state-senate candidates and backing ethics and campaign-finance reforms.

Cuomo took the deal. But once he got the endorsement, he brazenly reneged, flouting his former promises and even seeking to undermine the WFP by starting a new ballot line called the Women’s Equality Party to confuse voters. In retrospect, WFP insiders view the Cuomo endorsement as a damaging miscalculation. [7]

WFP support


In January 2016, after hearing from hundreds of Working Families Party members in the district urging her to run, Zephyr Teachout officially announced she is running for Congress in New York’s 19th Congressional District.

Hundreds of WFP members in the 19th District — which spans the Hudson Valley, Catskills, Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier — signed the petition urging Zephyr to run over the past few weeks.

Radical supporters

Alex Deane October 10, 2016


With Zephyr Teachout, Maria Scarangella, Jordan Roque, Darrett Zephyr Roberts and Sara Niccoli.

TPP Forum

On Tuesday, November 10, 2015, the Big Apple Coffee Party and All Souls Peace & Justice Task Force presented a forum examining the TPP and how it will affect our lives if approved by Congress.

The panel of experts included Margaret Flowers, healthcare reform activist and co-founder of Popular Resistance; Jim Hightower, syndicated columnist, author and publisher of the Hightower Lowdown; Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch; and Kevin Zeese, political activist and co-founder of Popular Resistance. The event was moderated by Zephyr Teachout.[8]



In 2016 Zephyr Teachout was supported by Council for a Livable World.

Teachout is running in a district President Obama carried twice. This is an open seat with the incumbent Republican congressman retiring. Teachout is well-known in the district from a previous primary challenge in 2014 against a Democratic governor.
To win the nomination, she won the Democratic primary with a strong 73% of the vote, and now faces John Faso, a former New York State Assembly minority leader. The race is considered a toss-up.
Teachout had raised $1.6 million while her opponent has raised $1.4 million. This contest is listed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as a good prospect for a pickup of a Republican seat.
Zephyr attended Yale, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1993. She went on to receive two simultaneous degrees from Duke University in 1999: a JD summa cum laude and a Master of Arts in political science.
After obtaining her law degree, Teachout clerked for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals. She is now a tenured Fordham law professor. She was the first National Director of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan organization working to make Congress more open and transparent. She also held the positions of CEO and Board chair for the US-based anti-corruption nonprofit Mayday PAC.

Teachout supports the Iran nuclear deal and would reduce the U.S. nuclear weapons budget because the U.S. has more than enough nuclear weapons, and other security and foreign policy programs are of higher priority.
She would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan as quickly as possible and endorses the Kissinger-Shultz-Nunn-Perry vision of moving responsibly toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

New progressives

Writing in The Nation magazine, John Nichols quoted Jayapal as saying, "We're building a movement that can clearly stake out a positive vision for the future of America at a time when too many people feel cynical about change, and when too many people are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table."

According to Nichols, Jayapal argues that "corporations and special interests have their voice in Congress, and they have too many members scared of their power. What Congress needs is a progressive voice who is unafraid to take on these powerful interests-who is willing to fight for all Americans, not just the wealthiest one percent."

Nichols wrote that Jayapal joins "a number of the Democrats ... being nominated for the House [who are] progressives who really could change the chamber and the country."

Nichols writes that Jayapal joins "a number of the Democrats ... being nominated for the House [who are] progressives who really could change the chamber and the country."

Aside from Jayapal, Nichols cites "Civil rights and voting rights champion Jamie Raskin , "a brilliant constitutional scholar and state legislator [in Maryland]" ... and "Anti-corruption and anti-monopoly campaigner Zephyr Teachout [who] has a real chance to take a Republican-held seat representing New York."[9]

"Sen. Jeff Klein is Smeagol from Lord of The Rings"

IDC Diaries December 24, 2017:

Sen. Jeff Klein is Smeagol from Lord of The Rings.

No one could have said it better of the role IDC Boss Sen. Jeff Klein plays in the twisted web of New York Senate politics. Fortunately, for the anti-IDC movement, Prof. Zephyr Teachout has been a forceful voice in helping understand the mechanics of how the #TrumpDemocrats align with Republican-control of New York’s Senate and what they get in return.

I can tell you that during the TownHall’s Q and A, I asked whether Prof. Teachout was considering running for the 2018 governors race. She didn’t say a word, but the packed room went boinkers for some loud moments of excitement. I mean the crown went nuts for some moments. Please share widely!


NYCD16 Indivisible, No IDC Rise and Resist True Blue NY Empire State Indivisible Alliance for Quality Education of New York Working Families Party Zephyr Teachout Lewis Kaminski Black Lives Matter of Greater New York — with Tiffany Wheatland, Michael Beltzer, Samelys Lopez, Danielle Brecker, Andrew Jacobs, Becca Lish, Sola Adenekan, Shannon Stagman, Andrew Mutnick, Susan LK, Joseph Sellman, Christiaan James Perez, Lisa DellAquila, Shannon S. O'Hara, Claire Ullman, Tammy Osherov, Honor Mosher, Leyla Martinez, Jill Greenberg and Philippe-Edner Apostol-Marius.

True Blue NY

March 1st, 2018, New York, Today, more than 60 New York grassroots groups endorsed the following challengers to five members of the New York Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC): Alessandra Biaggi (District 34, Bronx and Westchester), Robert Jackson (District 31, Northern Manhattan), Rachel May (District 53, Syracuse area), Zellnor Myrie (District 20, Brooklyn), and Jessica Ramos (District 13, Queens).

The newly formed True Blue NY Grassroots Coalition is a diverse network of groups that have mobilized statewide with a unified goal to defeat the IDC. Coalition leaders spoke out today at a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan. The Coalition will eventually endorse challengers for all of the districts represented by IDC members.

“We stand here today not just because of stalled legislation in Albany, but because the IDC has been costly in other ways. Senator Jeffrey D. Klein and Independent Democratic Conference divide the Democratic Party when unity is paramount. We also stand here today because we’ve decided it’s time to take back our government and our Party,” says Carmela Gaines of Queens Huddle.

“I am so excited about all the incredible Democratic challengers against the IDC in New York,” says Zephyr Teachout, Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. “We can turn the State Senate Democratic–which means turning New York away from inequality, broken subways, and underfunded schools.”

Muslim Democratic Club endorsement

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The Muslim Democratic Club of New York endorsed Zephyr Teachout in 2018.


Law professor Zephyr Teachout blazed the trail, first in 2014, when she enlisted folks she met in the Occupy Wall Street movement to help her run for New York governor (a worthy attempt to oust centrist incumbent Andrew Cuomo), and then, in 2016, when she sought a congressional seat (which she also didn’t win). [10]