By David Brand and Emma Whitford
*UPDATE [10:07 P.M.] — Borough President Melinda Katz and other candidates for Queens DA addressed Lancman’s rumored decision to leave the race.
Councilmember Rory Lancman is dropping out of the race for Queens District Attorney and endorsing Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, eight sources familiar with the campaign and the Queens County Democratic Party told the Eagle.
Lancman did not attend a candidates forum at York College on Thursday night. Lancman and his campaign staff have not responded to multiple phone calls from the Eagle.
“Rory Lancman is dropping out of the Queens DA race and will be endorsing Melinda Katz,” a source familiar with the campaign told the Eagle .
*The original version of this story broke during the forum, prompting moderator Jeff Coltin of City & State to ask Katz about it.
“I cannot speak for the councilman,” Katz said, adding that she would welcome Lancman’s support.
“I think right now I have six opponents. As of right now, I have six opponents,” she told reporters after the forum. “The councilman has not said anything publicly.”
Lancman has run TV ads criticizing Katz’s candidacy, including her past support for the death penalty, for several weeks. Despite the campaign attacks, Katz said the pair share mutual respect for one another.
“Look, Councilman Lancman and I have worked together for almost 20 years now in different legislative bodies and different offices. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he and I have respect for each other,” Katz said. “I think you need to touch base with the councilman himself. I think it’s not unusual for colleageus who have worked together still having respect for each other.”
Lancman was the first candidate to announce his candidacy for Queens District Attorney and positioned himself as reformer poised to bring transformational change to the DA’s Office. He has struggled to receive support from progressive organizations and leaders, however.
A coalition of Queens grassroots organizations and progressive elected officials have instead chosen to endorse public defender Tiffany Cabán to become the county’s next top prosecutor. Katz, meanwhile, has received support from the Queens County Democratic Party and various labor unions.
Two of Lancman’s early supporters — the Rockaway Youth Action Fund and State Sen. James Sanders — both switched their endorsements to public defender Tiffany Cabán on Thursday evening.
The primary election for Queens DA is June 25.
Former Queens Supreme Court Justice Greg Lasak, former Civilian Complaint Review Board Director Mina Malik and former Brooklyn prosecutor Jose Nieves — all of whom are running for DA — each criticized the alleged development.
“This sounds like a classic plea deal,” Lasak said. “The political machine pleaded for one career politician to endorse another career politician, and once again Queens families are left out.”
Nieves called the rumor “politics as usual.”
“It’s extremely surprising,” Malik said.
Lancman’s campaign has $470,000 on hand, according to the most recent Board of Elections financial disclosure report.