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Teachout meets residency requirement for gubernatorial bid, says state justice

Fordham University law professor and Democratic primary gubernatorial

Fordham University law professor and Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout in Brooklyn on Aug. 7, 2014. Credit: AP / Peter Morgan

A New York State Supreme Court justice ruled Monday that long-shot Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout meets the state's five-year residency requirement to run against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in next month's primary.

Cuomo's campaign has vowed to appeal the decision.

In a 12-page ruling, State Supreme Court Justice Edgar Walker said Cuomo's campaign attorney "failed to establish . . . that Ms. Teachout did not reside in the State of New York after June 2009."

Teachout, 42, a Fordham Law School professor who moved from Vermont to New York City in 2009, is waging an underdog bid against Cuomo, touting a liberal agenda. In a prepared statement, she said, "Today we beat the governor and his old boys club in court" and urged Cuomo to join her for a debate before the Sept. 9 primary.

"His two attempts to knock me off the ballot have failed -- first by challenging my petition signatures, and second by challenging my residency," Teachout said. "We won Rounds 1 and 2. Now it's time for Round 3: a debate. New York Democrats deserve a debate between Andrew Cuomo and myself about the issues that real New Yorkers care about: schools, fracking, corruption and building a fair and strong economy. There wasn't supposed to be a primary in Andrew Cuomo's New York. Game on."

Cuomo campaign attorney Martin E. Connor said, "As the judge himself noted in his decision, Ms. Teachout admitted under oath that she misrepresented her address on official and tax documents. Will Ms. Teachout be paying the taxes owed to the State of New York? We will be appealing today's decision."

Connor was referring to Teachout's 2009 and 2010 income tax filings, which she amended earlier this year to reflect her New York residency after previously listing on the forms that she had lived in the city for "0 months" in 2009 and 10 months in 2010.

During a two-day trial last week in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn, Teachout testified that the tax filings were "clearly a mistake."

At the trial, Connor also questioned Teachout's full-time residency status by pointing to a traffic ticket, a Vermont driver's license and other documents in which she listed Vermont as her primary residence.

In his ruling, Walker said, Teachout and two of her friends who testified in court "all presented credible testimony" that she lived at various Manhattan and Brooklyn addresses over the past five years. Walker also cited utility and rent checks, and emails related to "housewarming parties, lease renewals and moving arrangements" as evidence of her time living in New York.

Teachout's attorney Lawrence A. Mandelker said both sides will appear in appellate court on Aug. 19.

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