While Zephyr Rain Teachout sounds like a course in weather forecasting, it’s actually the name of a candidate challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Tuesday’s Democratic primary — and the governor is far from happy.
Cuomo attempted to boot Teachout off the ballot, claiming the Vermont-born and raised woman isn’t a real New Yorker and thus ineligible to run. Fordham law professor Teachout replied that she’s resided at various Manhattan and Brooklyn addresses over the past five years. A state appeals panel recently ruled that she satisfied the residency requirement.
But is Teachout a true New Yorker? Does she ride the subway? Can she find her way to Coney Island, Chinatown or the Cloisters? How does she handle the maddening F train schedule on weekends?
Is she familiar with L & B Spumoni Gardens? Zabar’s? Dinosaur Bar-B-Que? Has she ever eaten a calzone or bialy? Does she even know what they are?
Can she name any great destinations in the Bronx beside Yankee Stadium?
Find her way to Belmont racetrack? OK, how about Saratoga? Can she identify Joey Chestnut? Curtis Sliwa? Robin Byrd?
Being a real New Yorker doesn’t mean spending chunks of time in Vermont and keeping an apartment in the city. Teachout likes to tell her childhood story of tickling a bull’s nose, then racing to the farmhouse to lure him back into the pen before he caught and gored her. I don’t recall playing that game in Brooklyn.
To be fair, that was years ago. More notably, it was only last year when, stopped by a cop for a traffic violation in North Carolina, she gave a Vermont address.
In today’s mobile society, people do often have more than one residence. Hillary Clinton ran for the U.S. Senate from New York in 2000, despite having been born and raised in Illinois, living in Arkansas for two decades, then spending 1992 to 2000 in Washington, D.C. She and Bill Clinton bought a home in Chappaqua. While Bill hasn’t held elected office here, doesn’t he seem more like a real New Yorker than Hillary?
Judges have criteria to determine whether someone meets the legal requirements of being a New Yorker. For the rest of us, we know one when we see one.