Though Melinda Katz refused to concede the Queens district attorney race to Tiffany Cabán on Tuesday night, urging that all the absentee votes should be counted, the results made one thing certain: Greg Lasak, the moderate candidate, is out of the running.
Lasak came in third with about 14.5 percent of the vote, winning a smattering of northeastern and southwestern precincts. His loss ends a campaign that argued for prosecutorial experience over radical reform, boasting 39 years of experience in a courtroom, 25 of those in the Queens DA office.
Lasak left his job as a New York State Supreme Court Judge in order to run in the race. Those attending his vote count party at Bourbon Street in Bayside – many of them friends, family and former colleagues – were shocked by the results, which quickly showed that Lasak was no longer in the running.
Oddly, when the NY1 feeds began showing Katz and Cabán’s neck-and-neck and well ahead of the rest of the field, the organizers of the party turned off the feed on all the TVs in the room and put on “Family Feud” instead.
“This just happened so fast. This is not what we expected,” said James Preston, who worked as a campaign organizer. “I’m an event promoter. I just believed in Lasak.”
Lasak himself did not arrive to the party until around 10 p.m.. He beelined to give his daughter a long embrace.
Lasak spent most of his speech thanking his family members as well as his campaign team and his former legal colleagues for their support over the years.
“I am blessed with a beautiful family and great friends. My wife Patty encouraged me to do this,” Lasak said, trailing off as his wife shouted that she was sorry from her seat at the table.
Lasak went on to comment on the progressive energy that led to his loss.
“We’re living in crazy times. Very different times. Changing times. But we’ll adjust to it. Because the good and the sensible always prevail. Because this is the United States of America,” said Lasak.
Judge George M. Heymann, a retired Kings County Housing Court Judge who worked with Lasak in the Queens DA office in the late ’70s, said that Cabán’s perceived victory signals a major shift in Queens Machine politics.
“I think if they had supported Greg, they would have won. Greg has always been an organization man. He was disappointed that he didn’t get the [endorsement],” Heymann said.
Another colleague of Lasak’s from his days in the Queens DA office was David Dikman, who said that he feared that the prospect of a Cabán victory would disrupt the office.
“I worked with [John] Santucci, who was the DA before Brown. I worked with [the late Queens District Attorney Richard] Brown, too. You want to have confidence in the chief law enforcement official that they personally know what criminal prosecution and investigation is about,” said Dikman.
With less than 50 percent of districts reporting, another attendant at the party, Frank Steele, past president of the John Browne Regular Democratic Club of Flushing, was already talking about his plans to stem the progressive tide in Queens County politics.
“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is wrong for Queens. We’re going to primary her. We’re going to primary her out,” Steele said. “We’re coming after AOC. You can quote me on that.”
Asked about the Cabán victory at the end of the party, Lasak declined to comment.