FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 11, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 21
Queens DA recount
Working Families placed all bets on primary win for Cabán without safety net
BY MARK HALLUM
Since March, the Working Families
Party has backed Tiff any Cabán for
Queens District Attorney and off ered the
resources for her to become a front-runner
Queens Dems denounce ‘Trumpian’ post-primary rhetoric
BY MAX PARROTT
While the manual recount for the
District Attorney’s race got underway
over in Middle Village on Tuesday morning,
Queens County Democratic Party
Chair Gregory W. Meeks called a press
conference in front of the Forest Hills
Board of Elections offi ce.
Speaking before a crowd of media and
supporters on July 9, Meeks pushed back
against misinformation that votes for public
defender Tiff any Cabán in the district
attorney primary are being discarded.
“Th roughout last week, we have seen
such misinformation and lies that threaten
the public trust in this process,” said
Meeks, who endorsed Queens Borough
President Melinda Katz’s bid for DA,
upbraided unnamed members of Cabán’s
campaign staff and supporters who spread
what he deemed conspiracy theories
about the election process in the last week
aft er the absentee ballots were counted.
Cabán had declared victory following
the June 25 primary aft er emerging with
a 1,100-vote lead, but aft er the Board of
Elections counted absentee and some affi -
davit ballots last week, Katz came out on
top of Cabán by 16 votes.
Th e speakers including Councilman
Rory Lancman and Congressman Th omas
Suozzi, among other city and state offi -
cials from Queens, who railed against
“Trumpian tactics” of those spreading
misinformation about the ballot count.
Beyond the airing of grievances, the
rally also gave Meeks an opportunity to
weigh in on a pressing question for the
election: Should the invalidated affi davit
ballots be counted? Meeks praised the
Board of Elections and framed the signifi
cance of counting every vote along
“We talk about all the time the great
diversity of Queens County. Look at the
people behind me and tell me we lack
diversity in Queens County,” he said.
Lancman, who dropped his campaign
about a week before the election, took the
issue a step further, explicitly accusing
the Cabán campaign of “disenfranchising
African American voters” in southeastern
“I fi nd that off ensive and repugnant,”
Lancman told QNS.
Asked if he agreed with the Cabán campaign’s
charge for these affi davit votes to
be counted, Meeks chastised her election
lawyer’s attempt to get only a portion of
those affi davit votes validated last week.
“Th e affi davits came up at 114, but
what they want to validate was 29 because
they cherry-picked the 29 from the area
in which they lived in. If the 29 are valid,
then the whole 114 should be valid,” said
However, Meeks’ conviction over the
affi davit votes wavered when he was
asked whether Governor Andrew Cuomo
should immediately sign into eff ect the
bill the legislature recently passed to count
all ballots in which voters “substantially
complied” with the law.
“You can’t go until a baseball game and
say the day of the game we want to change
the rules right now … I don’t think it’s the
right thing to do,” he said.
Cabán’s campaign released a statement
Tuesday urging the opposite.
“Melinda Katz said on election night
that every vote should be counted. We
hope her campaign will join us in court
to make sure that happens – and join our
call on Governor Cuomo to quickly sign
already-passed legislation that could prevent
otherwise valid votes from being
thrown out by technicalities,” her spokesperson
Photo: Max Parrott/QNS
Congressman Gregory Meeks speaks at a July 9 rally in Forest Hills.
in the months leading up to the primary
and well beyond.
But they may not have done enough
to ensure her campaign survives to
November if she does not come out ahead
of Borough President Melinda Katz in the
still-undecided Democratic primary —
now in the midst of an automatic recount.
Contrary to the expectations of many
with knowledge of the WFP’s history,
Cabán will not appear on their ballot line
in the general election, making the Board
of Elections recount and court hearing a
sudden death round in the most competitive
Queens DA race in more than a generation.
According to a Working Families Party
source, the organization was faced with a
decision: either devote scarce resources to
petitioning to add Cabán to the general
election ballot, or commit those resources
to a singular and aggressive Democratic
primary run with no safety net.
Had the WFP given Cabán their party
nomination, it would have guaranteed the
progressive public defender a ballot spot
in the November general election, regardless
of the Democratic primary outcome
— and potentially set up an even more
contentious battle between Cabán and
Katz, should the borough president wind
up winning the primary.
Katz now holds a 16-vote lead over
Cabán in the Democratic DA primary, for
which an automatic manual recount started
on July 9.
In all, the WFP provided $250,000 to
Cabán’s campaign and devoted “thousands
of hours of staff time,” according to
a memo obtained by QNS.
“We knew this one was always going
to be a David-and-Goliath struggle.
But it’s part of the WFP’s mandate, in
New York and nationwide, to transform
our broken system of criminal justice
and end mass incarceration,” the
memo read. “Tiff any’s run is also the latest
sign of how the community groups,
labor unions, and grassroots activists
who make up the WFP are changing
the balance of power in our city and
our state. We defeated the IDC, which
led to a realignment in Albany that
returned power to the people. We helped
elect tenant organizer and criminal justice
reformer Jumaane Williams as New
York City Public Advocate. And with the
Cabán campaign, we’re part of a movement
that is transforming Queens.”
Politicians as well as parties such as the
WFP have looked to alternate ballot lines
as a fail-safe for tough races.
In 2018, for example, then-state Senator
Tony Avella lost the Democratic primary
to John Liu, but was on the Reform Party
line in the general and continued to put
up a fi ght for his northeast Queens seat
(he was unsuccessful).
In the 2017 Democratic primary,
then-Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley
defeated challenger Robert Holden in
the general. Holden, however, pressed
on with two third-party lines that he
secured. He wound up defeating Crowley
in November, thanks in large part to
securing the Republican voting line in
September of that year.
Read more on QNS.com.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
The Working Families Party endorsed public defender Tiff any Cabán in the Queens DA race — but it
did not secure for her a ballot line in the November election.