NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Melinda Katz has declared victory over public defender Tiffany Cabán in the race for the Democratic nomination for Queens district attorney after a recount in the roller-caster race concluded Thursday. Her opponent is not going away quietly though.
The manual recount of more than 90,000 votes in New York City ended exactly one month after the June 25 primary in the race to succeed longtime district attorney Richard Brown, who died in May.
“Now that every valid vote has been counted and recounted, the results confirm once again that the people of Queens have chosen Melinda Katz as the Democratic nominee for district attorney,” the Katz campaign said in a statement.
Cabán said her campaign is now taking the election results to court, arguing too many write-in ballots were invalidated by the city’s Board of Elections.
“We are going to continue to fight to make sure that every single valid vote is counted. Up to this point, hundreds of ballots cast by eligible and registered Queens Democrats that were wrongly invalidated,” the public defender claimed.
The New York City Board of Elections did not announce the results of the recount on Thursday, but is expected to certify the results within days.
The contest attracted national attention unusual for a local prosecutor’s race, with progressive freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsing Cabán, a 31-year-old first-time candidate who vowed dramatically decrease the number of offenders prosecuted and sent to prison.
The 53-year-old Katz, a veteran politician who served as a member of the New York state Assembly and the New York City Council, was the choice of moderate Democrats, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Four other candidate trailed Katz and Cabán in the primary; a seventh had dropped out before the election.
Cabán appeared to have pulled off a stunning upset with a lead of 1,090 votes on election night, but Katz pulled ahead by 16 votes after absentee and affidavit ballots were counted. The hair’s-breadth margin triggered an automatic recount.
Cabán’s campaign said “only dozens” of votes separated the two candidates after the recount and said it would press on with its legal challenge seeking to restore hundreds of ballots invalidated by the Board of Elections.
Many of those voters who had their ballots thrown out by officials were reportedly not registered Democrats, and therefore could not take part in a party primary.
“These ballots include Cabán votes were that inappropriately thrown out by the Board of Elections during the manual recount, as well as ballots that have been improperly discounted due to BOE errors and arcane technicalities that can be open to legal review,” the campaign said in a statement.
The campaigns are due in court on Aug. 6.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)