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Cuomo endorses bitter rival ZephyrTeachout, but it wasn’t easy

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo finally endorsed a recent bitter rival in her congressional bid on Wednesday, but it didn’t seem easy.

“I will support the Democratic nominee for Congress in that district,” Cuomo told a reporter who asked. Cuomo wouldn’t say the Democrat’s name and reporters including one from the New York Observer said he made the statement with “his face twitching in apparent discomfort.”

That Democrat is Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law professor and author of a well-reviewed book on government corruption. She is seeking the seat in the 19th Congressional District, which stretches from south of Albany to Kingston. She won the Democratic primary to land the nomination.

In 2014, Teachout gave Cuomo a surprising challenge to the liberal Working Families Party line in Cuomo’s re-election bid, then challenged him again in the Democratic primary. Her underfunded campaign with little name recognition turned heads with Teachout’s promise to ban hydrofracking for gas — a dicey political decision at the time — and her pointing to Cuomo for failing to rid Albany of corruption as he had promised in his 2010 campaign.

To win the Working Families Party line, Cuomo received help with a personal plea from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, before Cuomo and the mayor began a feud that continues today.

After Cuomo, then and now head of the state Democratic Party, was re-elected in 2014, he banned hydrofracking, citing state environmental studies.

In the fall, Teachout will face Republican John Faso, a former GOP nominee for governor and past minority leader of the Assembly.

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