Watch CBS News

As Democratic Primary Nears, Cuomo, Teachout Take Different Approaches

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- As Gov. Andrew Cuomo all but strolled through the final days of his campaign, his Democratic challenger, Zephyr Teachout, ran hard Monday as she tried to reach out to progressive voters.

As WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported, Cuomo fired up organized labor supporters Monday night before launching into Teachout's resume.

"Experience matters," he said, adding that in that respect, Teachout and her running mate Tim Wu – both law school professors – cannot compare.

Cuomo, Teachout Fight For Votes On Primary Eve

"You need experience in government if you want to run the State of New York. It is a big enterprise, and it's complicated," Cuomo said.

But Teachout on Monday night continued to play up her role as an Albany outsider, hoping for what she called the "upset of the century."

"Andrew Cuomo represents an old, tired politics, and there's so much excitement around Tim and my vision for the State of New York," Teachout said.

For his part, the governor is portraying himself as above the fray, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported. Cuomo has done little campaigning.

But mailboxes are filling with his literature, and his supporters are furiously placing phone calls to potential voters.

Cuomo is hoping to win on his record of accomplishments in Albany from four on-time budgets, funding for universal pre-K, and passing a Marriage Equality Act.

"You remember where we were four years ago when we took office, New York was in a bad way," Cuomo said. "We had taxes going through the roof. Working families were being strangled."

Cuomo coldly dismissed questions Monday about whether the Teachout vote is really about people unhappy with him.

"During an election, everyone gets an opinion," Cuomo said. "That's the beauty of our democracy."

The governor has refused to face Teachout, a Fordham law professor, in a debate.

On Eve Of Democratic Primary, Cuomo, Teachout Take Different Approaches

"I don't think it has anything to do with (not respecting) democracy," Cuomo told Haskell. "I think it has to do with individual campaigns."

Teachout said the governor is scared and his refusal to debate sends a message to voters

"It's basically saying, 'I am not respecting you,'" his underdog challenger said.

Teachout has been taking a much more active approach. She is telling voters she'll represent them rather than corporate interests.

As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Monday night, Teachout has said she does not like how business is done in Albany, with the deal-making to pass laws. But Teachout said she is willing to do the very same thing to get finance reforms, including trading pork-barrel projects for votes, Kramer reported.

"This is one area where I would not be ashamed to use every power of the governor's office," Teachout said, adding, "Yes, even if I had to give them local projects."

Taxes are also one of the biggest differences between Cuomo and Teachout. Cuomo has been trying to reduce taxes, and the reputation of New York state as one of the highest-tax states in the nation.

Teachout wants a $10 billion tax hike – mostly on estates and the financial services industry – in order to finance improvements in education.

She said she is not afraid businesses will flee as a result.

"I actually think there's pretty good evidence to think that doesn't happen," Teachout said.

In her first run for elective office, Teachout is hoping to play off her outsider status against Cuomo, who has had to answer questions about why he got rid of the Moreland Commission that was investigating corruption in Albany.

But she was vague about what the state agency budgets she would cut to finance her educational priorities, such as free tuition at state colleges, Kramer reported.

"I'm happy to come back to you with the details," Teachout said.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Vielkind, who covers state politics for Capital New York, said one of Teachout's problems is money -- or the lack thereof.

Vielkind also said Tuesday's margin will be telling.

"If Teachout breaks 30 percent, she can claim that she's done a wonderful job," he said. " .... If she is less than 20 percent, expect Cuomo to talk about how there's always grumbling, but that the mass majority of people like him."

Kramer reported that Cuomo appears to be worried not about his own primary chances, but that his handpicked running mate – upstate former U.S. Rep. Kathy Hochul – will lose to Wu.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.