Just days after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caused a frenzy at the Queens Pride parade in Jackson Heights by appearing with Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán, whom she endorsed last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo elbowed his way into the race by publicly voicing his support for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
In an interview Tuesday on WNYC, Cuomo went to great lengths to explain why he is headlining a fundraising event in Manhattan next week for Katz and it came down to her standing up to the opposition in support of Cuomo’s major infrastructure projects in the borough.
“She is a different kind of politician. She is gutsy. She’s tough. She gets things done,” Cuomo told Brian Lehrer. “Most politicians are very timid by nature. The expression is ‘the politician who does nothing does nothing wrong.’”
Although he referred to Katz as Melissa rather than Melinda, Cuomo had good things to say about the borough president.
“I am aggressively trying to bring change to New York,” he said. “We’re bringing a new LaGuardia Airport to Queens, an AirTrain to Queens, which is long overdue, a new Kew Gardens Interchange, new John F. Kennedy Airport, and I need people to help support these changes, even though they cause disruption, and Katz was willing to stand up and say, ‘We need these changes. I know they’re not popular; people don’t want to go through the disruption,’ but she did it. She showed guts and that impressed me.”
Cuomo dismissed the notion that he was backing an establishment candidate against Cabán, a progressive public defender. Cuomo added that he and Katz “get things done” making them true progressives.
“Governor Cuomo has been a leader on the most important progressive fights in our state,” Katz said. “He’s signed landmark LGBTQ rights legislation, raised the minimum wage across the state, and he stood up to Donald Trump time and again. On issues of criminal justice reform, New York has Raised the Age, ended the gravity knife ban, reformed the discovery process, and ended cash bail for a broad range of crimes thanks in part to his leadership.”
Katz called them crucial reforms that will make New York’s justice system more equitable and just.
“I’m proud to have Governor Cuomo’s support at this critical level,” Katz added. “It’s an honor to have leaders from across our city and state confident that my skills and experience make me uniquely qualified to bring change to the Queens district attorney’s office.”
The Cabán campaign labeled Katz as a career politician with no criminal court experience, while their candidate represented more than 1,000 clients in criminal court.
“Katz clearly can’t run on her non-existent legal experience, so she has to bring in establishment support to make the case for her,” Cabán spokeswoman Monica Klein said.
Katz and Cabán face Councilman Rory Lancman, Judge Greg Lasak and former prosecutors Mina Malik, Jose Nieves and Betty Lugo in the June 25 Democratic primary.