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Public defender Tiffany Cabán, a candidate for Queens District Attorney, speaks with supporters in Jackson Heights, Queens hours before polls closed for the borough's Democratic primary election, June 25, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images.
Public defender Tiffany Cabán, a candidate for Queens District Attorney, speaks with supporters in Jackson Heights, Queens hours before polls closed for the borough's Democratic primary election, June 25, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City…

Tiffany Cabán concedes Queens DA race after six-week battle

She declared herself the winner on election night in May, but after the absentee ballots were counted, found herself down by 60 votes.

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For a more than a moment, it looked like Tiffany Cabán would become the newest progressive district attorney elected to the office of the justice department of a major U.S. city. 

The candidate — a longshot at the start of the Queens District Attorney race  — picked up some serious endorsements before the primary election from other progressive DAs — like Philly’s Larry Krasner — and juggernauts like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

These names helped put Cabán in the national spotlight and gain enough support to challenge the favorite, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

On election night on June 25, it looked like Cabán had pulled off the upset. After holding a slim, 1,100-vote lead, she declared victory. 

Cabán looked poised to win the general election in November, but as the absentee ballots were counted, her lead dwindled and she was eventually overtaken by Katz.

The Queens Borough President was the Democratic-establishment candidate for the job. Cabán was a public defender who grew up in the projects in Woodside, Queens, and became the first in her Puerto Rican family to go to college.

After a recount, Katz, ahead by just 60 votes, was declared the winner on July 29. Cabán’s campaign challenged the outcome in the New York Supreme Court, calling for 114 disqualified votes to be counted in a last-ditch effort to retake the lead, but the judge only agreed to count 28. 

Katz goes into the November election as the heavy favorite.

Regardless of the outcome, Cabán’s campaign was yet another expression of the growing power of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party against its old guard.

“We terrified the Democratic establishment,” Cabán said to supporters in a concession speech on Aug. 6.

She also vowed to keep fighting for Queens, where she said “there’s still so, so much work to be done.”

And from Cabán’s viewpoint, she won’t need the title of DA to make those changes.

 

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