A Queens District Attorney candidate may be brought to victory by the Democratic Socialists of America and Working Families Party

It may seem like the only way ordinary people can impact elections is to vote. But in Queens, effective grassroots campaigning may decide the District Attorney election.

It seemed Tiffany Cabán was winning the Queens Democratic primary election for district attorney. However, the paper ballots take longer to count, and when they were counted it was determined that Melinda Katz, Cabán’s main opponent, had won the election by just 20 votes. Because of how close the election was, the votes are in the process of being recounted, so Cabán still has a good chance of winning.

Cabán’s near victory is part of a larger progressive movement. She campaigned around issues like ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration within queens, as well as planning to “tackle corporate crimes” according to her campaign website. Cabán was also backed by the NYC Democratic Socialists of America, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

This election mirrored the 2018 congressional election as Katz and Cabán were each backed by candidates in that election. Former Congressman Joe Crowley backed Katz; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive candidate who defeated Crowley, backed Cabán.

According to Luke Elliot-Negri, a CUNY Grad Center sociology student who has been published in Jacobin and NY Daily News, there are other factors at play than just a recent progressive movement. He believes that the Working Families Party was central to Cabán coming within 20 votes of winning. The Cabán campaign was a “coming together” of the two organizaitons’ strengths: the DSA’s numbers and the WFP’s methods and experience. The WFP has connections to labor unions who could be drawn on, while the DSA has members who helped a lot with the campaigning process. “The most effective thing to get people out to the polls is to show up to their doors” as Luke Elliot-Negri put it.

This election is part of a greater national struggle against political machines throughout the country. Due to the recounts, it is very possible that Queens’ next District Attorney could be Tiffany Cabán, despite the efforts of some powerful political figures.

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