Candidate backed by AOC, democratic socialists declares victory in Queens DA primary

A liberal candidate endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and her democratic socialist allies claimed victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary for the Queens district attorney race -- touting far-left policies including halting certain prosecutions and closing jails.

Tiffany Caban, a public defender and political neophyte, declared victory as voting counts showed she held a narrow lead over the state Democratic Party’s favorite and Queen Borough President Melinda Katz.


"When we started this thing, they said I was too young. They said I didn't look like a district attorney. They said we could not build a movement from the grassroots. They said we could not win. But we did it y'all," she said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had warned that if Democratic voters failed to turn out, then what he called "ultra-left" candidates could win.

Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Caban reacts as she is greeted by supporters Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Caban reacts as she is greeted by supporters Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“If there’s a higher turnout, then more Democrats speak and … the outcome tends to be more representative of the overall Democratic opinion," Cuomo said, according to the New York Post. He went on to say that "many of the New York City Democrats are afraid of the ultra-left, or a product of the ultra-left in the last primary."

According to The Associated Press, Caban led Katz by 1,090 votes with 99 percent of precincts reportings. But more than 3,400 absentee ballots are yet to be counted and more could arrive in the next few days. Caban’s campaign told The New York Times that they were comfortable declaring victory as the ballots would be divided among the seven candidates in the race.

Caban, who identifies as a queer Latina, ran on a liberal agenda including stopping prosecuting recreational drug use, prostitution, and smaller crimes like subway fare evasion. She has also promised to seek less punitive sentences for many felonies. The Post reports that she also would work to close Rikers Island and end cash bail.

Consequently, she’s picked up high-profile endorsements from the national left-wing of the Democratic Party, including Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The Times reported that she thanked the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, as the crowd chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “People-powered justice” and “no new jails.”


Her victory has echoes of Ocasio-Cortez’s long-shot primary win over then-Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., in last year’s House primary. Ocasio-Cortez, herself a democratic socialist, went on to win the election and has joined freshman Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., as part of an influential left-wing bloc in the House.

That progressive wing of the party is currently exerting a significant hold over the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, where a number of far-left policies such as de-criminalizing illegal immigration and reparations for slavery have gained traction.

Fox News' Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.