By David Brand and Phineas Rueckert
Borough President Melinda Katz’s lead in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney swelled to 60 votes Tuesday, when Board of Elections officials finished the borough’s first countywide recount in decades.
Katz entered the recount leading public defender Tiffany Cabán by 16 votes, but picked up additional ballots during the painstaking, manual tally. She celebrated the result in a statement.
“I am so proud that the people of the borough I have served for so many years have given us this victory today,” Katz said. “I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the families of Queens, and to beginning the critical work of instituting true criminal justice reform, ensuring fairness and equity, and keeping the people of this borough safe.”
Katz’s campaign attorney Michael Reich, the executive of the Queens County Democratic Party, called the result a “wonderful victory.”
“How could I not feel great,” he told the Eagle. “We look forward to the campaign in the fall.”
Despite the 60-vote cushion, the race is far from over.
“The real action starts next week,” a BOE lawyer told the Eagle immediately after the recount. “That’s when this goes to court.” (The two campaigns are actually scheduled to appear in court Aug. 6.)
Cabán’s attorney Jerry Goldfeder said the campaign will file specific challenges to several ballots that the BOE ruled in favor of Katz. Meanwhile, a state Supreme Court judge brought in from Brooklyn will determine the fate of 114 affidavit ballots initially deemed invalid by the BOE.
Cabán visited the BOE site in Middle Village to address the media alongside her attorney Jerry Goldfeder.
“I want to acknowledge that today marks the end of the manual recount, but to emphasize that this race is not over,” Caban said. “We are going to continue to fight to make sure that every single valid vote is counted.”
Initial election night returns showed Cabán leading by more than 1,000 votes. She and her supporters celebrated at an event in Woodside, at which she declared victory. Her lead increased to roughly 1,100 votes, with roughly 91,000 ballots cast, before BOE officials tallied absentee and valid affidavit ballots. Katz reversed that total in a stunning turn that prompted the recount.
The ultimate victor will face an uncertain Republican opponent in the general election. Richmond Hill attorney Daniel Kogan ran unopposed for the GOP nomination, but told the Eagle he would step aside to let former Judge Greg Lasak run in his place.
Lasak has not responded to request for comment, but did not rule out running as Republican on election night a month ago.