By Phineas Rueckert
With less than three weeks left to go before the Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney, public defender Tiffany Cabán ramped up her campaign with several high-profile endorsements, a rally and a powerful campaign ad.
The DA hopeful, who has already racked up endorsements from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, and a number of other politicians and activists, added several more this week.
On Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a leader in the justice reform movement, endorsed Cabán at a small rally in Jackson Heights. Over the rumbling sounds of the elevated subway, Krasner touted Caban’s campaign as the one truly progressive campaign in the Queens DA race.
“Make no mistake, the progressive candidate that we are supporting — and by ‘we,’ I mean those of us who care deeply about criminal justice reform — and speaking for myself as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, the one I am supporting is Tiffany Caban,” he said.
Cabán’s campaign has paralleled Krasner’s 2017 bid for Philadelphia DA, by championing “transformational” change in the prosecutor’s office.
“I’ve spent my entire career representing over 1,000 people who are trapped in our racist, classist justice system,” Cabán said. “It’s going to take a public defender … to fundamentally transform the status quo and the metrics of success within our district attorney’s office.”
Krasner, who once called himself “completely unelectable” because of the number of times (75) that he had sued the Philadelphia Police Department, won his election in Philadelphia with more than three-quarters of the votes after running on a progressive platform focused on decarceration.
Krasner framed Caban’s candidacy in terms of both its present and future impact.
“What somebody like Tiffany does — if the campaign does it well — is bring in new voters, bring in young voters, which is incredibly important for her, but it’s also important because those people will be voters for life,” Krasner told the Eagle.
Later in the evening, about 150 people, many of them in their 20s and 30s, attended another event at Anable Basin in Long Island City, which featured speeches from Krasner, Browder; State Sen. Ramos, journalist and activist Shaun King and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.
Cabán, speaking last, called on the crowd to help her mount one final push to get out the vote in a race that typically experiences very low turnout.
“Everybody is moving to meet us where we’re at,” she said. “This is ours, we’re this close.”
On Wednesday, Brooklyn Councilmember Carlos Menchaca also announced he was backing Cabán.
“As district attorney, Tiffany will fight to keep our immigrant families together, to oppose any cooperation with ICE on the part of New York City, to keep ICE out of institutions such as our court houses and schools, and ultimately to invest in and support our immigrant communities,” Menchaca said.
Bronx activist Akeem Browder also announced his support for Cabán Thursday. His brother Kalief Browder committed suicide after spending three years in pretrial detention, much of that time in solitary confinement, after he was charged with stealing a backpack. The case was ultimately dismissed.
“This is the person that I think and I know would have been a great DA for the Bronx, although Queens is getting her,” Browder said Thursday, the four-year anniversary of his brother’s death. “I represent her fully and I support her fully.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli have recently announced their support for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Cuomo’s endorsement comes with fundraising might.
Councilmember Rory Lancman, former Judge Gregory Lasak, attorney Betty Lugo, former Queens prosecutor and Civilian Complaint Review Board Director Mina Malik and former state Attorney General’s Office prosecutor Jose Nieves are also running for the Democratic nomination for Queens DA.