Tiffany Cabán concedes in Queens DA primary race after weekslong court battle

Tiffany Cabán conceded in the primary race for Queens district attorney Tuesday night, more than a month after a too-tight-to-call election that resulted in a manual recount and a lawsuit over invalidated ballots.

Cabán made the announcement during a party for her volunteers and supporters at Katch Astoria, a gastropub and brewery in the Queens neighborhood. Among the attendees were Assemb. Ron Kim and state Sen. Mike Gianaris.

After chants of “Tiffany! Tiffany!” Cabán thanked the “thousands of volunteers” who helped mount the campaign and for “extending grace.” She also nodded to her age – 32 – as well as being a queer woman in a political world that doesn’t necessarily reflect what she sees in the mirror.

“I don’t look like our politicians. I don’t sound like most of them,” she told the crowd. 

Among the accomplishments she ticked off: altering how we talk about criminal justice reform.

“We completely transformed the conversation around criminal justice reform in this city. We forced the next district attorney of Queens into ending all cash bail,” she said to applause.

And what drew even a louder round? When she declared: “We terrified the Democratic establishment!”

Cabán’s concession followed another long day in court, where Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, certified as the winner by the Board of Elections, remained in the lead with 55 votes. 

Judge John G. Ingram, who presided, also ruled not to open a group of affidavit ballots that did not properly state the voters’ political party affiliation — a move that could have blocked any chance Cabán had at winning through the process.  

Following the hearing, Katz’s campaign adviser, Mathew Rey, issued a statement urging Cabán’s team to look at the facts of the situation.

“The margin has barely changed, and the results are the same for a third time,” he said. “There is nothing left to count and there is absolutely no math that would overturn Melinda’s lead. It is now time to allow Queens to move on in order to begin working on crucial reforms to the district attorney’s office.”

Cabán conceded, but not without noting: “We need to fix the serious flaws in our election system.” The flaws, she continued, “that the last six weeks have exposed.”

Katz thanked Cabán “for bringing closure to this long and hard-fought race” in a statement Tuesday night.

“Too often, the process of primary campaigns obscures the vast commonalities we share as Democrats and reformers,” she said. “I look forward to pressing ahead with my reform agenda as District Attorney, and I ask all Queens residents, regardless of whom they supported in this race, to join together to make our borough a model for successful, safe reform.”

With Lisa L. Colangelo