Can a professor ride popular outrage to take down a powerful politician? Well, after House Majority leader Eric Cantor’s shocking loss to an economics prof last week, anything seems possible.
The latest, in case you missed it, is that Columbia law professor Tim Wu is taking part in a primary challenge to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and he is using the platform to call attention to how big companies are exerting monopoly-like power over broadband service.
“We think antitrust policy is important. It used to be Standard Oil … now it’s Comcast(s cmcsa),” Wu told BuzzFeed, who reported on Friday that Wu is running for lieutenant governor alongside Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor mounting a populist campaign against Cuomo.
Wu’s role in the campaign is significant because his writings and scholarship have exerted considerable influence in debates over the country’s internet policy, as well as on copyright and antitrust issues.
Indeed, Wu coined the phrase “net neutrality” and his 2010 book on the subject The Master Switch, is popular among academics and policy types.
Realistically, Wu and Teachout’s bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination may be a long shot — the incumbent, who is reportedly eyeing an eventual presidential nomination, appears to have Albany’s powerful machine behind him, and is poised to swat away any challengers.
But Wu’s candidacy could at least raise the profile of net neutrality as a national political issue, especially at a time when the cable industry is pressuring states to throw roadblocks in front of municipal broadband expansion.
For now, Wu appears optimistic. Here’s two recent tweets, including a reply to Slate’s editor Jacob Weisburg:
On Eric Cantor — lesson is, I'd say, never underestimate the electoral power of the professor
— Tim Wu (@superwuster) June 12, 2014
— Jacob Weisberg (@jacobwe) June 16, 2014