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Teachable moment

Rochester Business Journal
September 5, 2014

Is it possible that incumbent Andrew Cuomo could lose Tuesday’s Democratic primary for governor? Well, yes. And could the Buffalo Bills win the next Super Bowl? One certainly can’t rule it out.

But try finding anyone willing to place a sizable wager on either thing happening.

Mr. Cuomo is virtually certain to prevail in the primary, but that has seemed to be of secondary importance in recent weeks. Instead, the focus has been on this question: Will challenger Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham Law School, win enough votes to embarrass him?

How many votes might be required? Some observers think more than 20 percent would be sufficient; 30 percent definitely would do the trick, they say.

Whether Ms. Teachout is even close to those numbers at this point is hard to say, because the major polling organizations have not asked voters about the primary matchup. That might explain, in part, the buzz that has built around her candidacy lately.

Another factor: the New York Times’ refusal to endorse the governor. The newspaper also declined to back Ms. Teachout but in so many words gave its blessing to “those who want to register their disappointment with Mr. Cuomo’s record on changing the culture of Albany.”

While Mr. Cuomo’s re-election bid does not appear to be at risk next week, his choice of running mate might be. Pundits think former Rep. Kathy Hochul could lose the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor to Ms. Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Selected by the governor as Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy’s replacement, Ms. Hochul has been criticized as too conservative.

Ms. Hochul, who served as Erie County clerk and won election to that post in 2010 with 80 percent of the vote, is a Western New Yorker like former Rochester mayor Duffy. If Mr. Wu prevails, the Democrats will present voters with an all-downstate ticket in November.

For Mr. Cuomo, the Sept. 9 primary may prove to be no more than a speed bump on the road to re-election. But if the message it delivers is that he should not take voters for granted, all the better.

9/5/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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