Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club: We're first to back Zephyr Teachout v. Cuomo

By Celeste Katz
June 9, 2014!/img/httpImage/image.png_gen/derivatives/article_970/teachout.png?enlarged
Zephry Teachout

A left-leaning city political club says it has the distinction of being first in the state to endorse Zephyr Teachout, the law professor running a long-shot Democratic primary against Gov. Cuomo.

Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, pulled no punches in announcing his group's decision, saying Cuomo has " a dismal record when it comes to progressive issues [and] issues regarding economics and the working class and the poor. He clearly favors the 1%."

Roskoff, whose screening committtee backed Teachout in a unanimous Wednesday vote, also slammed Cuomo for his reluctance to grant clemency to convicts and for the limitations built into his just-announced compromise on legalizing medical marijuana, calling both "heartless."

As if that weren't enough, he also unloaded on the governor for "his unwillingness to let New York City raise its minimum wage and increase taxes [on] the wealthy," not to mention his position on charter schools.

It's hard to believe anything short of an actual miracle could allow Teachout -- who won a substantial 41.3% of the vote at the Working Families Party convention -- to defeat the moneyed, popular incumbent.

But the backing of a club like Jim Owles would at the very least seem to represent the kind of pockets of dissatisfaction with Cuomo among very left-wing New Yorkers that Teachout is seeking to leverage in her heavy lift of a run.

Jim Owles was a noted figure in the gay rights movement, and his namesake club's members do pay particular attention to LGBT-related matters.

While Roskoff said the club must "applaud" Cuomo's successful push to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, "it would be condescending, demeaning, and insulting to think that we would base our decision on a single issue."

Still, he added, "We look forward to Zephyr marching with us in the Gay Pride Parade."

Update: Said Teachout spokeswoman Kate Albright-Hanna, "We are honored to have the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club be the first club to endorse us. We see it as an act of courage and defiance against a governor who does not share our core Democratic progressive values -- as well as the first step towards building a democracy and an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected."

A Cuomo spokesman declined comment.f



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