Friday, June 28, 2019

A Deeper Dive into The Queens DA Race - A Battle for the Democratic Party

While progressives celebrate the narrow victory of Tiffany Cabán in the Queens DA race, it was a shock and awe moment for the Queens Dem Party machine and allies (yes, to the UFT). But hope springs eternal and they are holding out hope that the absentee ballots will give Katz the victory.
Katz and her supporters remain optimistic that the approximately 3,400 absentee ballots, which remained uncounted as of earlier this week, could still tip the polls in her favor. .... The WAVE, June 28, 2019, www.rockawave.com
The WAVE took no formal position in the race other than "anyone but Tiffany." Yes, I write for a publication that doesn't quite align with me politically but they do give me space.

I'm sure people are sick of my reports on this election:
The implications locally and nationally are so deep and complicated. The AOC/DSA/Justice Democrats showed they could pull out more votes for their candidate than the Democratic Party machine plus the UFT (they donated $36,000 to Katz), the real estate interests, etc couldn't  muster the turnout for Katz.

This election mimics the Bernie/Hillary split in the Democratic Party. One candidate,
Deputy Attorney General Mina Malik, told a crowd in Southeast Queens on the Thursday evening before election day that “Bernie Sanders is the reason we have Trump in the White House.”
The articles I quote below have all the elements of this split, including black leaders' support for the regular Democrats and slams at the left.
 Katz, who was running for her sixth elected office in New York in 25 years, had support from former congressman and former Queens County Democratic Party Chair Crowley, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with New York Congressional Reps. Gregory Meeks, Tom Suozzi, Carolyn Maloney, and Adriano Espaillat, and a host of local and state unions. Meeks, despite a key vote on Capitol Hill Tuesday, was at Katz’s election night party. Earlier, he slammed Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for endorsing Cabán without consulting leaders of the machine. The move, he said, was “arrogant” and “patronizing.”
Our own UFT lines up firmly against the left and will do so every time. The number of UFT failures in its endorsement policy continues the trend. In other words, whoever they endorse for president should view it as a kiss of death.
A year ago, the party establishment could claim — whether it was true or not — to have been caught off guard by Ocasio-Cortez. That rationale is absent in Tuesday’s race. The eyes of the country were on Queens, and the machine was as prepared as it could be. It simply couldn’t muscle out the vote... The Intercept
There's a lot packed into this comment -- DSA vs Dem Machine. But also ignores that the number of candidates who were not progressive splintered the vote. If it was Katz against Cabán head to head this would be a different story.

The progressive Intercept has a different take

Tiffany Cabán Stuns Queens Machine, Holds Solid Lead in Race for Queens District Attorney...  progressive groups coalesced around Cabán

Cabán’s apparent victory is a show of force in New York for the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which worked hard for Cabán early, as well as for the Working Families Party and Real Justice PAC. Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney elected with the help of Real Justice on a similarly radical platform, was in attendance at Cabán’s election night party. The most significant endorsement, however, likely came from Bronx and Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. ....The Intercept

The Intercept called this victory more significant in some sense than AOC's defeat of Joe Crowley - who by the way still runs the Queens regular Democratic Party despite the fact that my own Congressman, Greg Meeks is the chair. Meeks is black and all the black elected officials came out for Katz with slams at the left.

I love how publications interpret events from their own point of view. The WAVE, which I write for, took a basic Anyone But Tiffany position and was critical of outsiders coming in to support her. Look at the map of the voting below -- my neighborhood went all blue for Greg Lasak, a retired Supreme Court Justice, who is associated mostly with the old regime. He had


There's still the election...
Given that Queens leans heavily Democratic, Cabán is all but assured a general election victory, provided she survives whatever challenges Katz files. That election will take place on November 5, 2019.
But there is still a chance for a conservative/right wing/Reg Democrat alliance. Melinda Katz's ex, right winger Curtis Sliwa who fathered two children with Katz was on Bernie and Sid this morning pointing out that Katz had no chance to win and would probably be given a judgeship, the usual way the graft works, saying all non-progressives, Republican and Democrats, should all gather together and back Lasik against Tiffany in the November election.

Sometimes politics is better than sports.

Both articles below.


https://theintercept.com/2019/06/26/tiffany-caban-queens-district-attorney-election-results/?fbclid=IwAR2Typ_F4SdjXXffq47qATDX4O7iSjvfBJ5DyId5iqqnRQNOm-JkntSltCQ
June 26 2019, 12:22 a.m.
As election results in the Queens district attorney’s Democratic primary race began coming in Tuesday evening, it was looking quite good for Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president who had the backing of the famous Queens machine. That supporting cast included every local member of the congressional delegation (save one), as well as the most famous ex-member, the one-time king of Queens, Joe Crowley.

Crowley lost his seat in a stunner a year ago this week, and a shock was in store for Katz, too. As the votes continued to be tallied, Tiffany Cabán, running on a radical decarceration platform, surged into the lead, and supporters of Cabán erupted. She held the lead through the night and declared victory just before midnight, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, holding on to a lead of 1,090 votes. The outstanding precincts were all in Jackson Heights, a Cabán stronghold, and there don’t appear to be enough absentee ballots outstanding to swing the election.

A local contest that typically has low voter turnout and gets little attention from national media drew endorsements from two of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, not to mention John Legend, along with shocking, if muted, backing from the New York Times editorial board— all for underdog public defender Tiffany Cabán.

Cabán’s apparent victory is a show of force in New York for the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which worked hard for Cabán early, as well as for the Working Families Party and Real Justice PAC. Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney elected with the help of Real Justice on a similarly radical platform, was in attendance at Cabán’s election night party.
The most significant endorsement, however, likely came from Bronx and Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The district attorney has jurisdiction over all of Queens and its some 2.4 million residents, but Cabán put up huge margins in portions of Queens represented by Ocasio-Cortez, which is both a reflection of their aligned politics and the influence of Ocasio-Cortez. A year ago, the party establishment could claim — whether it was true or not — to have been caught off guard by Ocasio-Cortez. That rationale is absent in Tuesday’s race. The eyes of the country were on Queens, and the machine was as prepared as it could be. It simply couldn’t muscle out the vote.

“Take nothing for granted,” said Daeha Ko, who spent his day canvassing for Cabán in Astoria, early in the night to a fellow supporter. By the end of the night, he might have been talking to Katz.

While Cabán’s election night gathering exploded by the end of the night, Katz’s — at an Irish pub in Forest Hills — was much more muted. As the TVs turned from cheering Cabán supporters to ESPN, she left without conceding, gesturing to the absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. “Mainly they were able to get out the vote,” said Sohail Rana, a volunteer with the Katz campaign. Rana said he supports Katz because of her position on bail and her years in public office.

One of the seven candidates, New York City Councilman Rory Lancman, who led a promising campaign but dropped behind as Cabán’s campaign picked up steam, dropped out with just five days to go. After months of denouncing her for being a career politician and having no criminal courtroom experience, Lancman announced he’d be endorsing Katz. And one of the trailing candidates in the race, former D.C. Deputy Attorney General Mina Malik, told a crowd in Southeast Queens on the Thursday evening before election day that “Bernie Sanders is the reason we have Trump in the White House.”

With a few weeks to go, Katz, the favorite of the Queens Democratic machine, started sending out fliers attacking both Cabán and retired New York Supreme Court Justice Greg Lasak — a move that one strategist close to the race who declined to speak on the record described as a sign that her campaign was “running scared.” Sending out negative mail, they said, is not something a confident frontrunner would do.

But at a time when the nation is grappling with how to address the largest incarcerated population in the world, reckoning with a history of wrongful convictions that have disproportionately landed innocent black people in prison, and reimagining a rehabilitative rather than a strictly punitive justice system, the office overseeing one of New York City’s largest incarcerated populations is finally coming around to change.

Katz, who was running for her sixth elected office in New York in 25 years, had support from former congressman and former Queens County Democratic Party Chair Crowley, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with New York Congressional Reps. Gregory Meeks, Tom Suozzi, Carolyn Maloney, and Adriano Espaillat, and a host of local and state unions. Meeks, despite a key vote on Capitol Hill Tuesday, was at Katz’s election night party. Earlier, he slammed Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for endorsing Cabán without consulting leaders of the machine. The move, he said, was “arrogant” and “patronizing.”

But progressive groups coalesced around Cabán and brought the race national attention. Organizers pushing to end the construction of new jails, decriminalize sex work, and build relationships between the district attorney and the communities most impacted by choices the DA makes knocked on doors, organized rallies, and got out the word to propel Cabán’s campaign further than many expected it to go.

The last time Queens elected a new district attorney, the late Dick Brown got lucky. His only primary challenger in the 1991 race, the late Vincent F. Nicolosi, was disqualified for irregularities and at least one case of fraud among the signatures he collected to get on to the ballot. With Nicolosi gone, and overwhelmingly Democratic Queens generally indifferent to the Republican challenger, Kerry J. Katsorhis, Brown’s win was easy. He would stay in office for the next 28 years until his death in May.

Brown had kept the Queens DA’s office behind on the curve of criminal justice reforms being welcomed in other offices across the country, and even in neighboring boroughs of New York City. The Queens office is the last in the city without a conviction review unit and still prosecuted low-level nonviolent offenses like possession of small amounts of marijuana and fare evasion. Each of the candidates promised to change that, and all of them styled themselves as progressives at odds with the way the office had been run for close to three decades under Brown.

With less than a week to go before the Democratic primary, Cabán raked in endorsements from Sens. Warren and Sanders — leading to a brief spat over who was first to back her. She’d already gotten support from district attorneys Larry Krasner in Philadelphia and Rachael Rollins in Boston.

The Sunday before election day, New York State Sens. Jessica Ramos, Mike Gianaris, and Luis Sepúlveda; New York City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Brad Lander; Comptroller Scott Stringer; and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon held a rally for Cabán in Queens’s Jackson Heights neighborhood. She also received recent endorsements from Sunrise New York City, the Muslim Democratic Club, the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, Empire State Indivisible, and Central Park Five exoneree Yusef Salaam.

In the last filing period, Cabán received the most individual donations of all of her opponents by more than 3,000 contributions. “Cabán has three times as many donors from Queens as all her opponents combined,” Monica Klein, a spokesperson for the Cabán campaign, said in a statement to The Intercept. During the last filing period, according to Klein, Cabán raised $242,030 from 3,884 donors, including 776 donors in Queens. In the same period, Katz raised $172,152 in 133 contributions, including 57 in Queens — and Lasak raised $144,697 from 211 donors, including 108 in Queens. “We’ve raised the most money in the race and are in the strongest position to win (and just want to note we’ve tripled Caban’s fundraising),” Grant Fox, a spokesperson for Katz, said in a statement to The Intercept.

According to their most recent filings, Malik, Nieves, and Lugo all raised under $40,000 from fewer than 100 donors, including fewer than 20 from Queens.
Lasak, a career judge and former prosecutor, won recent endorsements from the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and New York City’s Citizens Union. In the final days of the race, a campaign aide told The Intercept, they felt confident, having cut into Katz’s base and closed in on her polling lead by 18 points, in addition to swinging undecided voters his way. Lasak’s campaign poured at least an additional $150,000 into TV ads, increasing their spending on digital ads as well and putting another six pieces of mail into circulation. He finished with less than 15 percent of the vote.

Given that Queens leans heavily Democratic, Cabán is all but assured a general election victory, provided she survives whatever challenges Katz files. That election will take place on November 5, 2019.


The WAVE

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Thousands of ballots remain uncounted, but Cabán claims victory in Queens DA race



Mina Malik received 3,310 votes (or 3.9 percent) and Rory Lancman received 1,168 votes (or 1.4 percent). There were 1,996 votes — or 2.3 percent — for write-in candidates.
“We are a borough who stands together, who watches each other’s backs,” Katz said with a hopeful grin plastered across her face. “We are here for each other. And we will continue to be here for each other as we continue to count every single vote.”
This map, created by Sam Hudis and Jon Reznick, shows how the votes were distributed in Rockaway.
This map, created by Sam Hudis and Jon Reznick, shows how the votes were distributed in Rockaway.
Congressman Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Democratic Party in Queens, stood by Katz’s side echoing her optimism about the race until all the ballots are counted.
“This thing ain’t over folks,” said Meeks, standing in front of a large Melinda Katz banner inside of Banter. “There’s a wonderful thing about democracy — you have to count every vote.”
He continued to celebrate Katz and her successes leading Queens as the borough president.
“We know we have an individual who is one of the hardest workers that this county and this city has ever seen,” he said. “She is the one who epitomizes what this county is all about. Look at the great diversity that is in this room. So, collectively, we’ll stick together [and] we’ll count this vote.”

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