Governor hopeful begins New York primary challenge

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Photo - Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout speaks during a news conference on Monday, June 16, 2014, in Albany, N.Y.  Teachout, a liberal New York law professor,  formally announced her primary campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he is too focused on his own ambitions and the interests of wealthy donors. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout speaks during a news conference on Monday, June 16, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Teachout, a liberal New York law professor, formally announced her primary campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he is too focused on his own ambitions and the interests of wealthy donors. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Liberal law professor Zephyr Teachout launched a primary challenge to unseat Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, acknowledging her status as an underdog but vowing to run a competitive campaign against the well-funded, popular incumbent.

Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, narrowly lost the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party last month after Cuomo promised to support several liberal priorities, including a higher minimum wage and a broad public campaign financing system.

"You probably want to know how we're going to win," she told reporters at a campaign kick-off Monday in Albany. "I know I'm an underdog. But I love New York, and New Yorkers love an underdog."

Teachout said Cuomo is too focused on his own ambitions and the interest of wealthy donors. She faulted him for supporting business-friendly tax cuts and not doing enough to address income inequality or the political influence of corporations and the rich.

Columbia University law professor Tim Wu is running for lieutenant governor as Teachout's running mate.

Polls show Cuomo is leading his Republican challenger Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, by double digits. Speaking on public radio's "The Capitol Pressroom" on Monday, Cuomo sounded unconcerned about his new challenge from the left.

"You have people on the extreme left and you have people on the extreme right," he said. "That's what you call a political contest."

Teachout said she supports a ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, the elimination of business tax loopholes and breaks, higher investments in public transportation, the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana and passage of the Dream Act — which would extend state financial aid to students in the country illegally.

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