In New York, Zephyr Teachout's Loss to Cuomo Still Feels Like a Win

The primary challenge of Zephyr Teachout against Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended in a rather sound defeat on Tuesday, her supporters and progressive observers are treating her run for New York governor as a victory for the growing populist surge that is taking place both inside and outside the Democratic Party.

According to the New York Times on Wednesday, results showed that with “85 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Cuomo had 60.7 percent of the vote, compared with 35.5 percent for Ms. Teachout.”

Despite the quite clear victory for the incumbent Gov. Cuomo, the rise of Teachout—a law professor at Fordham University and political organizer who ran on an anti-corruption platform while railing against the power of Wall Street banks and a “rigged” political system—has many progressives arguing that her populist message is the key to future victories at the ballot box.

As the New York Daily News reports:

And The Nation‘s Sarah Jaffe writes:

During her concession speech in front of supporters late on Tuesday, Teachout said: “This campaign demonstrates the rise of a new force in New York politics and American politics.”

Later, she tweeted:

Independent journalist Matt Stoller—who both covered the Teachout campaign and volunteered for it—argues that given the inequities in name recongition, powerful endorsements, and campaign money-spent, the results make clear that Teachout’s message alone was enough to earn the challenger many more votes than expected while cutting deeply into Cuomo’s base of support. Stoller argues:

What’s possibly more important about the Teachout-Wu challenge to the more centrist and elite-controlled Democratic leaderhsip that Cuomo exemplifies, writes Stoller, is that their insurgent campaign was the first this campaign season to show “that there’s real dissent within the party, over big stuff. “

As the New Yorker‘s John Cassidy describes, the final primary outcome was both an embarrassment to Cuomo, a darling of the liberal-elite establishment, but equally telling about the strength of the message put forth by Teachout and Wu:

 Expressing his assessment that Teachout’s bid for governor should be considered at least a symbolic victory for the message , Peter Rothberg of The Nation, who endorsed the campaign, tweeted:

As Jaffe concluded, the implications go far beyond New York politics: