ALBANY Zephyr Teachout survived another attempt by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's supporters to knock her off next month's Democratic primary ballot after a judicial panel ruled Wednesday that she is eligible to run.
The decision ends an effort mounted by two men listed online as Cuomo campaign interns to disqualify Teachout. The Cuomo campaign said Wednesday it would not appeal the ruling.
Teachout has said the challenge was an attempt by Cuomo's campaign to silence opposition to his re-election. The Fordham University law professor has emerged as a political irritant to the governor, highlighting his sometimes uneasy relations with liberals and threatening his hopes to win a second term by an overwhelming majority.
"With this frivolous lawsuit behind us, I'm hopeful the Governor will now agree to debate," Teachout said in a statement.
The men behind the challenge — Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht —argued in court papers that Teachout didn't meet the state Constitution's five-year residency requirement to run and "retroactively" changed her residency when she decided to challenge Cuomo. Teachout obtained a New York driver's license this spring and had listed a Vermont address on documents within the past five years.
Teachout says she has resided in New York City since taking her job at Fordham in 2009, despite stints teaching at Harvard University and a fellowship in Washington. She said she has also spent time visiting family in Vermont, where she grew up.
In a unanimous two-page decision, the four-judge panel ruled that the challenge failed to meet the burden of establishing "by clear and convincing evidence" that Teachout wasn't a resident. The court ruled that although Teachout had maintained "close connections" to her childhood home, it was "nothing more than an ambiguity."
Cuomo's campaign declined to comment on the ruling other than to say it would not pursue an appeal before the state's Court of Appeals. Cuomo has no plans to debate Teachout before the Sept. 9 primary.
The ballot will include a third Democrat, 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.