How Running for Governor Is Like Selling a Vacuum

Zephyr Teachout ran against New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary earlier this year, on a populist platform. While she lost, she received more than a third of the vote and carried almost half of the state’s 62 counties.

While Teachout is well known for her efforts to limit the influence of money on politics, she still needed to raise money to fund her campaign. In this clip, she tells Bill that she felt like a “vacuum cleaner salesman” as she spent hours smiling and dialing in an effort to raise funds.

“If you have to spend half your day, 70 percent of your day, talking to donors and then turn around and give a speech engaging people on the issues that matter to them — their dental care, credit cards, the real difficulty finding a job — it feels false,” says Teachout, a constitutional and property law professor at Fordham Law School. “It’s hard to have those two conversations at the same time and gradually I think people have gotten more and more disillusioned because they feel like they aren’t being served.”

Teachout and Lawrence Lessig, campaign finance reform advocates, appear on this week’s show: The Bare Knuckle Fight Against Money in Politics.