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Western Queens Electeds Split Over Who To Back for District Attorney

Tiffany Cabán (left) and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

June 24, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan and Christian Murray

State Senator Michael Gianaris endorsed public defender Tiffany Cabán, 31, over the weekend in the contentious race for Queens District Attorney.

“I’m interested in supporting someone who is going to bring real change to the prosecutor’s office,” Gianaris said when he made the announcement. “Tiffany Cabán is the best choice to do that.”

Gianaris’ support of Cabán, who is running the most progressive platform in the race, has come just days before the June 25 election. Gianaris’ 11th-hour endorsement falls in line with his recent move to the left, including his staunch opposition to Amazon’s proposed Long Island City headquarters late last year and his decision to no longer accept real estate money.

His endorsement is indicative, however, of a growing chasm among Queens Democrats, where former party loyalists are now supporting a progressive candidate like Cabán or are remaining silent by not supporting the Queens County Democratic Party’s favorite—Melinda Katz– at all.

“The AOC victory weakened the machine and its grip. It’s emboldened some officials,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, an early supporter of Cabán. “The machine is dying and they see this race as an existential threat. Their power is shrinking by the day.”

Cabán, a queer Latina who lives in Astoria, has seen a lot of her support come from outside of Queens. She has received the endorsements of national figures like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as from progressive leaders such as Cynthia Nixon, Zephyr Teachout and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

In Queens, the elected officials who have come forward to support her are mainly from the western portion of the borough, where the progressive wave is in full force—buoyed by Congresswoman’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunning victory over Joe Crowley last year.

Cabán has received the endorsements of Ocasio-Cortez, State Senator Jessica Ramos, who represents the greater Jackson Heights district, along with Assembly Member Ron Kim of Flushing, and State Senator James Sanders of South Ozone Park. Council Member Van Bramer endorsed Cabán in April.

Meanwhile, Council Members Costa Constantinides and Daniel Dromm have decided not to endorse. Assembly Members Catalina Cruz, Aravella Simotas and Brian Barnwell have also remained on the sidelines.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Katz supporter, said that many Democrats, like Gianaris, have not endorsed Katz because they are afraid of being challenged by the left.

“They’re afraid of a primary from the left, and in low-turnout elections, the so-called ‘Joe Crowley Effect,’ where nobody votes but a small base of motivated people does turn out and they lose. So they — some of them — are tripping over themselves on their way to the left to appease this activist, younger demographic,” he said today on WAMC’s “The Roundtable”.

Centrist Queens Democrats and party loyalists are sticking with Katz however, providing her a long list of endorsements from elected officials.

Assembly Member Catharine Nolan, for example, endorsed Katz last week.

Nolan cited Katz’s legal experience and “track record of public service,” categorizing Katz as a candidate who “has taken on powerful interests and fought for progressive change.”

Katz, 53, is a well-known Forest Hills resident who has served Queens for more than two decades as an Assembly Member, City Council Member and Borough President.

The leader of the Queens County Democratic Party, Gregory Meeks, has remained staunchly behind Katz and has been critical of outsiders such as Sanders and Warren for endorsing Cabán.

“African Americans have the largest stake in this DA race, from reforming the criminal justice system, to ending racial disparities and stopping mass incarceration. Yet Warren and Sanders saw fit to endorse without even considering what African Americans thought,” Meeks said in a release.

Former Congressman Joseph Crowley, who was unseated in 2018 by Ocasio-Cortez, sent an email blast on Thursday, asking for support and donations on behalf of Katz.

Katz still has the backing of most Democrats in Queens, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; State Senators Joseph Addabbo, Leroy Comrie, John Liu and Toby Ann Satavisky; Assembly Members Andrew Hevesi, Alicia Hyndman, Stacey Pheffer Amato, David Weprin, Mike Miller, Michael DenDekker and Jeffrion Aubry; and Council Members Karen Koslowitz, Peter Koo, Daneek Miller,  Donovan Richards, Paul Vallone, Robert Holden and Francisco Moya.

Council Member Rory Lancman, who dropped out of the race on Friday, threw his support behind Katz.

“She has made the effort to successfully garner support within every community in our borough,” Lancman said on Friday.

But Greg Lasak, one of the six contenders in Tuesday’s race, said that Lancman’s decision was just the party machine in action.

“Lets be clear on what this is,” Lasak wrote in an e-mail. “The political machine wants to make sure their chosen candidate wins and they’re not above making backroom deals to make it happen.”

The election takes place Tuesday, June 25. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

Where to vote

Polling locations can be found online at nyc.pollsitelocator.com.

The candidates for the Queens DA race are:

Tiffany Cabán, a public defender

Melinda Katz, the current Queens borough president

Gregory Lasak, a former Queens County State Supreme Court justice and Queens prosecutor

Betty Lugo, an attorney and founder of the law firm, Pacheco & Lugo, PLLC

José Nieves, a former prosecutor in the NYS Attorney General’s Office

Mina Quinto Malik, a former special victims prosecutor in Queens, Special Counsel at the Brooklyn district attorney office and deputy attorney general of the District of Columbia.

email the author: [email protected]

19 Comments

Click for Comments 
I guess I am voting for Katz

Too bad for Caban, she might have had a chance if she didn’t get endorsements from the 3 asshats who don’t deserve their place in office, for a multitude of reasons, most recent/notably their temper tantrum around Amazon.

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MEDIAWATCHER

I pity poor Katz, she would’ve had a chance if she hadn’t taken all that Real Estate money.
Goodbye Katz,.
Caban, Congrats!

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Anonymous

Let us noe kid ourselves. The residents of LIC were NOT going to be hired at Amazon headquarters. They were going to relocate existing staff and hire top computer programmers recruited nationally. Yes, a few interns would have gotten placements. Yes, a few janitors would be hired. This is a tiny group. Bigger gains would have been seen by local restaurants and the area landlords were set to clean up. These folks are already a privileged class. The vast majority of people would have been hurt by displacement and the loss of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues. Giannaris’ move to the left may be an opportunistic tactic to save his own job. It is also the correct move for the future of a city that must always consider the needs of ALL its citizens, and not just the personal gain of a privileged few.

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It's True, It's Damn True

And your extensive research comes from where exactly? You definitely sound like you like hearing yourself talk.

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jb

Greg Lasak is the only candidate against closing Rikers
(which will lead to thousands of criminals going free all over the city)

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Warden at Rikers

That’s 100% factual: any prisoners at Rikers will be pardoned immediately, the gates will be opened, and they can go wherever they want.

Imagine being gullible enough to believe that?

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Alma de Cubano

Joe Crowley and his family of thieves have balls appearing in public. He was duly and properly whipped, and it’s the machine’s turn to get it’s rear kicked today. Again.

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Anonymous

Looks like great future ahead for Queens. Partial list of commitments from the Tiffany Caban website: prosecute less, shorter sentences for felonies, advocate against death by incarceration for serious crimes. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Gee I wonder why you tried to mislead people so hard?

> prosecute less

She wants to prosecute less cases recreational drug use, something both sides almost universally support

>shorter sentences for felonies

Longer sentences to not deter criminals, they just increase taxpayer costs for imprisonment. Sources:

* http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180514-do-long-prison-sentences-deter-crime
* https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/16/longer-prison-sentences-civitas

> against death by incarceration

That’s accurate, I guess you’re a big supporter of people dying in prison?! Under her system they’d be paroled.

Feel free to post any alternative facts.

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Liberal with sanity

We can agree to disagree. I am not a big supporter of people dying in prison. but when a member of my family or your family is raped or murdered, I have no problem with that rapist or murderer dying in prison. I hope neither you or I will be faced with that circumstance.

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I agree, you were completely wrong

Strange, you were all for people dying in prison one comment ago…hmmm.

Could it be that you didn’t know a single fact before your rant?

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QUEER LATINA

QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA QUEER LATINA

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Gardens Watcher

Hard to know if you’re a cheerleader or a homophobe racist. I suspect the latter.

The voters will choose and the media & politicians will spin the results.

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altrightpost

licpost doesn’t allow my post on alt right political candidates, but they don’t mind offensive comments against leftist candidates.

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jb

Oh come on.
This was clearly posted by the rad left to rile the base.
That’s not how slugs talk.

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LIC DIRECT

What is left of the Greek community in Astoria will remember who Michael Giannaris backed, Tiffany Caban, what is he nuts? He will be outsted from public office in coming elections. He and Jimmy Van Bramer will forever be remeber of the killer of jobs for opposing Amazon from coming to LIC. We won’t forget.

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Anon

All of those jobs were not guaranteed and any jobs they would have brought (they’ve since increased presence in Manhattan) were certainly not guaranteed to any locals! Get over it already.

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Morons

Give me a break man. Get off your high horse. Of course they’re not guaranteed but there were measures takes in case milestones weren’t made.

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