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Sanders backs Teachout, Williams; silent on governor's race

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responds to a question

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responds to a question during a town hall meeting in Jackson, Miss., on April 4. Credit: AP / Rogelio V. Solis

ALBANY — Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday endorsed Zephyr Teachout for attorney general and Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor as they vie in Thursday’s Democratic primaries.

Sanders (I-Vermont), the 2016 presidential candidate as a democratic socialist, made no endorsement in the race between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and activist Cynthia Nixon. Each are courting the liberal Democratic vote.

“Zephyr Teachout is running an exciting campaign to transform the office of attorney general,” Sanders said Monday. “I am confident that she will combat corruption wherever it hides, and will be a strong and independent voice in Albany.”

Sanders said Teachout will be “fearless in holding accountable those who think they are above the law.”

Teachout, a Fordham law professor, is chasing the liberal Democratic vote that usually dominates primary voting. She faces Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and Buffalo-born corporate attorney Leecia Eve.

“Bernie Sanders has changed what’s possible in our politics by rejecting the cynicism of the status quo and insisting on a progressive agenda that puts people first,” Teachout said.

A Siena College Research Institute poll on Monday poll found that 35 percent of likely Democratic voters were still undecided on the race. Maloney had the support of 25 percent of Democrats, James had 24 percent, Teachout had 18 percent and Eve had 3 percent. The poll questioned 509 likely Democratic primary voters Wednesday to Friday and has a margin of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

In backing Williams, Sanders opposed Cuomo’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul of Buffalo.

“Jumaane Williams has shown himself to be a bold and independent leader who will fight for working people in every corner of the state,” Sanders said. “On the New York City Council he has been a leading advocate for affordable housing, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and reforming our broken criminal justice system and policing practices.”

Sanders said Williams will fight to expand Medicare, to create jobs and improve education and the environment.

“I was so proud to support Bernie Sanders when he started a rising progressive tide in 2016,” Williams tweeted. “That tide is now a blue wave . . . to defeat an establishment afraid of the real change we can create.”

The Siena poll gave Hochul a 43 percent to 21 percent lead over Williams with 36 percent undecided.

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