Countdown to the Queens DA Primary: Lancman staffer quits, outrage over digital ads, Katz & Cabán rally troops

There's less than 4 days until the 2019 Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney.
File photo

The fallout continues from the bombshell that shook up the Queens district attorney’s race with less than a week before the big Democratic primary.

City Councilman Rory Lancman dropped out of the race Friday and endorsed Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. That narrowed the primary field to six candidates, though two — Katz and public defender Tiffany Cabán — have emerged in recent days as the clear frontrunners.

Lancman’s announcement didn’t sit well with at least one close associate. The New York Daily News reported that Rachel Graham Kagan, chief of staff and legislative counsel to the councilman’s office, abruptly resigned on Friday in a widely circulated email.

Kagan, who happens to be a cousin of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, charged that Lancman’s “decision to leave the race and endorse Melinda Katz … represents the antithesis of everything we have stood for in our government work and throughout your campaign.”

During his dropout announcement, Lancman said that he had endorsed Katz because he felt Cabán hasn’t done enough to garner support from the African-American and Jewish communities. Another candidate in the primary field, former New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board Chair Mina Malik, also took shots at Cabán and NO IDC NY — a PAC supporting Cabán — for a digital ad that Malik believes “is extremely insulting to the Black communities of Queens.”

“The depiction of ‘Desiree’ as a struggling young mom from subsidized housing choosing to steal diapers without presenting other options such as faith-based resources, community assistance or other family help, is offensive,” Malik said in an email. “Tiffany Cabán appearing in superhero-like animation to ‘save the day’ crosses the line and demonstrates her tin ear to the strength of the Black community.”

Meanwhile, Make the Road Action also criticized a digital ad from Katz against Cabán which slammed the public defender as “dangerous.” The organization claimed that the Katz campaign was resorting to “fear-mongering at its worst.”

The Cabán campaign also sent out an email fundraising request based on a recent Politico report former Congressman Joe Crowley is raising funds for Katz. Last June, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stunned the nation in defeating the 10-term incumbent Crowley in the Democratic primary, and AOC is one of Cabán’s biggest supporters.

Katz and Cabán have busy weekends lined up, according to campaign schedules emailed to QNS. Katz will be rallying with elected officials in Forest Hills, Flushing and Jamaica on Saturday, while Cabán is holding events in Jamaica, Laurelton and Corona.

Earlier on Saturday, Cabán appeared in Astoria to pick up an endorsement from state Senator Michael Gianaris.

It’s clear that the campaigns are pulling out all the stops with less than four days to go before the big vote. Geography and each campaign’s vote-getting efforts will make all the difference, as recent elections in Queens have shown.

Stay tuned to QNS for all your news on the Queens DA’s race as the campaign comes down to the wire.