DA recount update: Cabán maintains convincing lead over Katz in East Elmhurst assembly district

da recount
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

Public defender Tiffany Cabán held onto her strong lead in one assembly district as the recount moved forward in the Queens district attorney Democratic primary.

Cabán is battling for superiority over Borough President Melinda Katz in a remarkably tight race: the two were just 16 votes apart before the recount.

On Tuesday, the Board of Elections tallied the numbers from the 34th Assembly District, represented by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. At the end of the June 25 primary, Borough President Melinda Katz had walked away from the 34th Assembly District with 1,275 votes to Cabán’s 2,932 — meaning Cabán had a lead of 1,657 votes in the area.

After Tuesday’s tally, Cabán’s votes now total 2,998, with Katz’s count at 1,346. Now, Cabán’s lead in the AD is 1,652.

This tightens the margin by only five votes.

As of Tuesday night, the BOE was counting the 33rd, 34th and 36th assembly districts with only the 37th and 38th left to go. The recount is expected to be finished by Thursday.

Cabán’s popularity in the 34th AD could signal the continued shift toward more progressive voices as opposed to the standard Democratic Party which Melinda Katz has come to represent, with backing from the Queens Democratic Party “machine.”

The results of the district attorney primary race could shed light on the political leanings of Democrats in this specific assembly district, as DenDekker is set to be up against a progressive primary opponent for his Assembly seat in 2020. With Jessica González-Rojas recently filing paperwork with the Board of Elections, DenDekker is among the growing list of incumbents getting challenges from the progressive wing.

Filing under a Jackson Heights P.O. box, González-Rojas plans to step into the spotlight from her position with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), for which she serves as the executive director, into the 2020 race.

González-Rojas will not be a total unknown to voters, having served on the state Democratic Committee for the 39th Assembly District from 2002 to 2006. She has also been a community liaison for Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, according to her bio on the NLIRH website.

González-Rojas’ run will not be made official, however, until petition signatures are collected from throughout her district and submitted to the BOE before a deadline.

DenDekker has an established track record as an elected official serving Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and part of Woodside. Before he was elected in 2008, DenDekker served as a member of Community Board 3.

González-Rojas’ challenge comes amid a sweep at the state and federal level of mainstream Democrats by progressives in the style of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Since Ocasio-Cortez unseated then-Congressman Joe Crowley in June 2018, open season has been declared on members of the Queens County Democratic Party.

Even the new chair of Queens Democratic machine, Congressman Gregory Meeks, is facing a primary from Democratic Socialist and former Ocasio-Cortez staffer, Shaniyat Chowdhury.

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