Zephyr Teachout’s prediction came true: she is now competing against John Faso in a race for Congress in the 19th Congressional District, a seat now held by Republican Chris Gibson.
Teachout won her primary race against a well-educated Livingston farmer, Will Yandik, whose Princeton credentials and youthful countenance failed to rouse voters who responded instead to the charms of a tall, blond and well-dressed Fordham law professor with a book on corruption in her resume. Faso, who was endorsed by most of the district’s party leaders, campaigned by flooding mailboxes with glossy post cards plus radio and TV. It worked, except in Dutchess, home to Andrew Heaney, where he had campaigned door to door and became better known.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the primary is that the Democrats drew more voters (17,006) out of the hayfields of the district than did the Republicans (13,714). Teachout received 12,409 of those votes while Faso won his primary with 9,126 according to the most recent figures as of 8 a.m.
While the Supreme Court has approved of PACs and gifts, favors and loans to political officeholders as long as they are not intended to influence a particular measure or action, Teachout, like many others, consider such political behavior a form of corruption that undermines our democracy and one person, one vote. Faso has given Teachout a giant supply of ammunition by accepting PAC favors from two hedge fund managers, Peter Singer and Robert Mercer, reportedly in the amount of $1,150,000. Teachout, by contrast, raises funds by internet from thousands of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren supporters who share her political message. We can expect that the influence of hedge fund managers will be a campaign issue. Hedge fund managers benefit from the “carried interest” interpretation that gives them capital gains treatment on what should be ordinary income. Congress could end that interpretation by legislation, but so far the hedge fund industry has kept it off the floor by making gifts such as were made to Faso.