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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | In May, the Downtown Independent Democrats voted “no endorsement at this time” for governor and lieutenant governor in the September Democratic primary.
The Working Families Party was endorsing the next day, and D.I.D. was curious to see how that would turn out.
Andrew Cuomo went on to win the W.F.P. nod over Zephyr Teachout, who then quickly decided to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary.
Taking up unfinished business, then, D.I.D. members convened this Monday night at club president Jeanne Wilcke’s Bleecker St. loft apartment to hear a brief presentation by Teachout, and reconsider if they would endorse.
The meeting didn’t include the full D.I.D. membership, since some members are out of town now, but rather was just the club’s Executive Committee.
Teachout — a first-time candidate and Fordham Law School professor, has been embraced by Downtown progressive clubs, The week before, The New York Times published a bombshell Page 1 article, reporting that Governor Cuomo had hobbled his own now-defunct Moreland Commission from probing groups with ties to him or issues that might reflect poorly on him.
On Monday, she said Cuomo is “under a dark cloud” right now, though she’s not ready yet to call what happened illegal.
“I think we are at a really crucial point in our history,” Teachout said.
Saying Cuomo has failed on his promise to clean up Albany, she said, “We are more beholden than ever to the oligarchs who say who gets tax breaks.”
She admitted she’s an underdog.
Asking Teachout about campaign finance reform, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar noted that a dissenting Supreme Court justice in the Citizens United case had cited Teachout.
“We are one justice away from overturning Citizens United,” Teachout responded, beaming a smile.
Pete Gleason, a former City Council candidate, asked about the William Rapfogel case, in which embezzled funds were found in the former Met Council president’s residences, which he shares with his wife, Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. William Rapfogel last week was sentenced to three and a half to 10 years in jail.
“How does $450,000 wind up in the closet of [Silver’s] chief of staff, and the guy falls on his sword, and it goes away?” Gleason asked.
The D.I.D. members reconvened later at Von lounge, across the street, to discuss if they would endorse.
“Overwhelmingly, the committee voted to recommend that D.I.D. members, at the next full membership meeting, endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor and her running mate, Timothy Wu, for lieutenant governor,” Wilcke later reported. “The general membership will decide the final endorsement in late August.”
Wilcke said club members were troubled by the now-defunct “secret M.O.U.” agreement hashed out between Governor Cuomo, the Hudson River Park Trust and the St. John’s Center owners to transfer $100 million of development rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s site. Hydrofracking, plus the governor’s disbanding of the Moreland Commission, have been other issues of concern, she said.