After losing to Governor Cuomo in Tuesday night's Democratic primary, Zephyr Teachout couldn't call the governor to concede because he didn't give her his phone number. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how this election went down and how, despite winning with 62.1 percent of the vote, Cuomo came out of the race looking less than victorious.
The narrative in the wake of the election has been that Teachout put up more of a fight that expected. Though the Fordham professor lost every county in New York City, she won several upstate counties, including Albany, where the state's capital is located. And that was on a microscopic budget — by one estimate Teachout spent $2.70 for every vote she got. Cuomo spent $48.
Roger Christenfeld, the Poughkeepsie Democrats's chairman, told The Wall Street Journal that Teachout might have won with more money. “She hasn’t really lost tonight because it is a very credible vote for someone with essentially no money who no one has heard of before," he said. "I asked a Democratic candidate for mayor what he thought of Zephyr Teachout, and he said, ‘What’s that?’”
Another way of putting it, as The Huffington Post did, would be:
Teachout's running mate, Timothy Wu, also had a better than expected showing. Unlike Teachout and Cuomo, Wu was endorsed by The New York Times and won 40.1 percent of the vote (Kathy Hochul, Cuomo's running mate, won 59.9 percent).
What NYT nod is worth? Wu, who was endorsed outright - vs non-endorsement of both Teachout/Cuomo - won about 20k more votes.— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) September 10, 2014
But it's not just the fact that this smaller-than-expected win is embarrassing for Cuomo — and would have been worse if he hadn't cracked 60 percent — but the way he handled the race itself. Until his victory statement last night (in which he thanked her and her running mate, Timothy Wu for "running a spirited campaign, engaging in the democratic process, and having the courage to make their voices heard”), he refused to acknowledge her by name or debate her. And, awkwardly, there was a small scandal over whether he'd even given his number to Teachout:
For those following phone call-gate (did gov give zephyr his #) zt says she has his number now and is about to call. @patkiernan— Josh Robin (@joshrobin) September 10, 2014
Ultimately, none of this will hurt Cuomo too much. He'll probably win his general election challenge against Republican Rob Astorino and return to Albany. But, as Teachout said in her concession speech "the Democrats of this state have been heard." Cuomo won, but the story is the small liberal opposition against him.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.