Congressional candidate Teachout thanks WFP for backing her this time

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Teachout. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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COLONIE — Roughly two years ago at the Desmond Hotel, the left-leaning Working Families Party handed Zephyr Teachout a disappointing setback by endorsing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election rather than her insurgent bid. 

At a conference held by the New York State Progressive Elected Officials Network at the Desmond Sunday, there was no explicit talk of what happened there nearly two years ago, when the party's institutional union backers turned back what was essentially a revolt among its activist members against Cuomo's business-friendly centrism. But the crowd hadn't forgotten. 

Delivering one of three keynote addresses at the party conference this weekend to several progressive legislators and activist leaders, Teachout, who is now running for Congress in the Hudson Valley seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson, stressed the importance of grassroots organizing — the sort that aided in her stronger-than-expected showing against the governor in that 2014 election, in which she wound up receiving about a third of the vote in the Democratic primary. 

A “network of great troublemakers” can help move progressive policies around the state, she said.

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When she thanked the Working Families Party for endorsing her congressional bid, there was some audible giggling in the crowd.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Teachout said there were “deeply shared values” between her the the WFP, and she and once again lauded “grassroots power."

“The big thing that we’ve seen over the last couple of years is grassroots power,” said Teachout, a Fordham University law professor. “You see that with teachers and parents around the Common Core. You saw that with communities of people who were opposed to fracking and you’ve seen that around people standing up to fight corruption.

“And all of those are areas where people, I think, felt shut out of the political process. They don’t all fall on left-right lines. These are people who are outside of the political process, organizing locally to speak up, and that’s part of why I’m running for Congress. To continue to lift up those voices."

While Teachout doesn’t have strong ties to the 19th congressional district, she did perform well in the area during her gubernatorial bid, largely due to her opposition to hydrofracking.

Teachout, a former Howard Dean campaign aide, grew up in Vermont, but has a rented house in Dover Plains in Dutchess County.

She has already received the backing of Democratic county chairs in the district, which covers part of 11 counties in the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

Part of her strategy in her congressional bid, she said, is to latch onto nonpartisan issues like infrastructure and transportation.