Katz pulls ahead of Cabán after paper-ballot count in Queens DA primary

The Democratic primary for district attorney in Queens, a race that drew nationwide attention, was thrown deep into uncertainty Wednesday after a count of roughly 6,000 paper ballots flipped the primary-night result.

Katz pulls ahead of Cabán after paper-ballot count in Queens DA primary

Tiffany Cabán, a 31-year-old public defender, saw the evaporation of an almost 1,100-vote lead over Melinda Katz, the Queens borough president. Katz had the backing of unions and local political leaders, while Cabán received support from prominent members of Congress.

Katz is ahead by 20 votes, 34,898 to 34,878, according to lawyers representing her. Jerry H. Goldfeder, a veteran election lawyer representing Cabán, agreed that Katz was now ahead by 20 votes. The close margin will automatically trigger a recount.

Goldfeder said he intended to challenge a decision to invalidate 2,000 affidavit ballots just before the count. The Board of Elections would not release any information until the election results were certified but confirmed that there would be a recount.

Cabán, a first-time candidate, had drawn celebrity support and a wealth of out-of-state donations after running a campaign that was seen as an extension of other criminal justice reformers who have won top prosecutor jobs in places like Boston and Philadelphia. Those prosecutors, Larry Krasner, in Philadelphia, and Rachael Rollins, in Boston, both endorsed her.

Cabán had also picked up endorsements from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — the two campaigned together two days before the election — and Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who are both running for president.

If Katz’s slim lead holds up, it would be a victory for the traditional power bases that typically dictate election results in Queens; traditionally, party leaders back the Democratic incumbent or an anointed successor. The last contested Democratic primary occurred in 1955. No Republican has been elected to the office since Dana Wallace’s win in 1920.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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