Tiffany Cabán concedes defeat in contested Queens DA race

NEW YORK — A local Democratic primary for Queens district attorney that gained national attention finally reached its end Tuesday, with public defender Tiffany Cabán conceding to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz after a judicial review of disputed ballots didn’t significantly alter Katz’s slim lead.

Speaking to supporters at a Queens restaurant, Cabán described herself in the tightly contested race as a “queer Latina public defender; I don’t look like our politicians, I don’t sound like most of them, I’ve never campaigned before, but I decided to run.”

Cabán was leading by more than 1,000 votes after the June 25 primary, but a manual recount led to Katz gaining a small lead.

The New York City Board of Elections declared Katz the official winner last week. Cabán went to court over ballots her campaign said had been improperly excluded. A judge’s review didn’t significantly impact the final decision, leading to the concession.

Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Caban in Queens, New York, on June 25. Caban told supporters Tuesday night that her campaign was conceding the Democratic primary to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz after a review of disputed ballots.Frank Franklin II / AP file

Minutes later on Tuesday, Katz issued a statement saying, “I want to thank Tiffany Cabán for bringing closure to this long and hard-fought race.”

“From the beginning of this race, I have been committed to bringing fundamental change to the district attorney’s office,” she said. “With the horrors of this past weekend still in my mind, I believe we need to focus on reducing gun violence and put an end to the proliferation of hate crimes.”

The see-sawing primary race to replace longtime district attorney Richard Brown, who died in May, was followed far beyond Queens.

Katz, 53, was the choice of moderate Democrats like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as unions and county party leaders. A veteran politician, she served in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1999 and on the city council from 2002 to 2009.

Cabán, 32, was endorsed by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her campaign platform included a promise to prosecute and incarcerate fewer people.

The winner of the primary is expected to succeed in the November general election.

Supporters and campaign workers packed the Katch Astoria pub where Caban told them she would keep fighting for what she called her “bold” platform.

“Trust me, we terrified the Democratic establishment,” she declared, by pushing for the decriminalization of sex work, declining corporate campaign money and promising to break the cycle of mass incarceration and end prison solitary confinement.