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Zephyr Teachout declares candidacy for attorney general

 Zephyr Teachout announced her candidacy for New York state attorney general on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.
Provided by Teachout campaign
Zephyr Teachout announced her candidacy for New York state attorney general on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

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 Tish 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.

Copyright 2021 WXXI News. To see more, visit WXXI News.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.