But not the way you think.
The first real sign of what awaited Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential race came two years ago, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found himself in an unexpectedly heated primary fight with a liberal gadfly from Vermont. Cuomo’s opponent, Zephyr Teachout, was a Fordham law professor who volunteered at Occupy Wall Street and wrote a book about political corruption. Teachout considered the governor too corporate and too conservative. Cuomo paid her so little attention that on election night, she struggled to find a phone number to call the governor to concede.
But Cuomo couldn’t ignore the results. Despite losing by nearly 30 points, Teachout exposed a deep fissure within the state Democratic Party. She won 32 of 62 counties, carrying some upstate areas by more than 50 points. Her running mate, Columbia law professor Tim Wu, called the primary “the first of what will be a long-running series of contests within the Democratic Party which really divide on the issue of inequality and private power.”
Wu’s prediction has come to pass. Clinton is now locked in an unexpectedly heated presidential primary with a liberal gadfly from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and the 44-year-old Teachout has moved on to her second act—she’s running for Congress. Sanders has raised money for Teachout and called her a member of his “political revolution.” Teachout has endorsed Sanders. The Vermont senator’s best result in Tuesday’s New York primary came in Teachout’s 19th congressional district, which he won by 18 points. The similarities between two of the left’s leading critics of corporatocracy are obvious to the point of cliché. (In an email spit-balling sensationalist angles my story might take, Teachout’s spokeswoman joked that I would describe her boss as “Bernie’s illegitimate child.”) Sanders probably won’t be on the ballot this November; instead, the fate of his movement will be in the hands of candidates like Teachout.