Meet Zephyr Teachout, the only feminist running for governor in New York

photo by Katie Halper

photo by Katie Halper

There’s only one New York gubernatorial candidate who is progressive and a feminist. And that’s Zephyr Teachout. The National Organization for Women’s New York chapter has the common sense and the spine to actually back her, while other organizations sell out and make deals behind closed doors with current governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, on Women’s Equality Day, Zenaida Mendez, the president of the New York State Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) stood in front of a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt and endorsed Zephyr Teachout. Mendez said,

Today, I am proud to be standing next to a dynamic woman with an inspiring, compelling vision, who promised to shake up Albany by including diverse voices, by including all those New Yorkers, who deserve better–a better economic life, a better system, a better paying job, affordable child care, affordable housing, affordable health care for all–a woman who has a holistic view of our state and how we should govern. The National Organization of Women is proud to be part of this historic effort to elect the first woman governor of this state.

Teachout responded by saying, “I’m so proud to stand her today with NOW and President Mendez of the New York State chapter. I’m a life-long feminist.” And Teachout does, indeed support “sick days and paid family leave insurance, so that no parent has to choose between paying the bills and nursing a sick child.” Teachout called out Cuomo’s attempt to co-opt women’s politics, especially his creation of the Women’s Equality Party, which he formed with former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who greatly disappointed her former supporters, including Gloria Steinem, by resisting paid sick leave as Speaker.

The Women’s Equality Party is a sham party. Christine Quinn can start a fake Women’s Equality Party, and Andrew Cuomo can run on it, but it cannot change the fact that Andrew Cuomo is the reason there is no Women’s Equality Act in New York…. They are not going to buy this sham Women’s Equality Party Christine Quinn is selling.

Teachout is right to bring this up. After all, Cuomo pushed a 10 point Women’s Equality Agenda, only to doom it by fighting to give the Republicans a majority in the State Senate. He promised not to redistrict along party-lines, but he did, further empowering Republicans. Why would a Democratic governor do this? In a RH Reality Check piece last year, Sarah Jaffe cites Chris Hayes, who sums it up pretty well:

[O]ne can’t help but suspect Andrew Cuomo actually does not want a Democratic majority in the State Senate because a Republican majority gives him more of an opportunity to burnish his bipartisan compromiser bona fides before launching his presidential campaign. And much, much, much more insidiously, we suspect he doesn’t want a Democratic majority because said majority stands ready to pass a whole raft of incredibly important, ground-breaking progressive legislation, including public financing for elections, marijuana decriminalization and a minimum wage hike, among others.

As Teachout explained it to Jaffe,

The governor wanted, fought for, and had a Republican State Senate… He blames the Republicans that he supported for his failure to pass the Women’s Equality Act. Then he uses the money he raises from Republicans and special interests to buy a cynical advertisement [the Women’s Equality Party] on the ballot touting his alleged support for women’s equality.

Hats off to Zephyr Teahout for getting the endorsement and to NOW for doing the right thing.

AvatarKatie Halper was at the endorsement yesterday, standing behind Teachout and Mendez, both literally and figuratively, though she is not in any way affiliated with the campaign.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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