Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
Public defender Tiffany Cabán conceded the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney during a party in Astoria on Aug. 6.

Public defender Tiffany Cabán conceded to Borough President Melinda Katz after a faltering court battle today to win back the majority by redeeming a number of invalidate ballots.

But Cabán and her supporters were jubilant in the strong challenge their campaign made to the Democratic establishment in Queens. The final margin in the race was 55 votes between the two out over 91,000 cast.

Cabán delivered a concession speech at Katch in Astoria, where the expressions on the faces of the people standing beside her were in sharp contrast to those on stage after the June 25 primary, in which she ended the night ahead of Katz by 1,100 votes. Members of VOCAL NY stood with her, but the only politicians who endorsed her run who were present on Tuesday night were state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Ron Kim.

“I’ve never run for office before. I didn’t come from a particularly engaged political family,” Cabán said. “On that NY1 debate stage, I said stages like this were not made or built for people like me and that has changed … We completely transformed the conversation around criminal justice reform. We forced the next district attorney to commit to ending all cash bail. We pushed for the decriminalization of sex work and we pushed it all the way into the presidential campaign.”

Cabán entered the field of seven candidates in the DA race later than some of the other frontrunners, having announced her run in January. In that time, she won support from the two presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and gathered financial support from across the nation.

“We may have even scared Cy Vance out of running for office; we terrified the Democratic establishment,” Cabán added.

In a statement, Katz thanked Cabán for conceding, claiming primaries accentuate differences between more traditional Democrats and progressives rather than bringing them together.

“I want to thank Tiffany Cabán for bringing closure to this long and hard-fought race. Too often, the process of primary campaigns obscures the vast commonalities we share as Democrats and reformers. We all want a safe Queens where everyone is treated equally,” Katz said.

Working Families Party Executive Director Bill Lipton said the race highlighted a number of issues as well as illustrating the amount of public support for criminal justice reform.

“Tiffany Cabán transformed the debate on criminal justice reform, not just in Queens but across the city and country as well.  She proved that progressive campaigns and the progressive movement can succeed across a borough as big and diverse as Queens, and that voters want fundamental changes to our justice system. We hope more courageous candidates like Tiffany run for office everywhere,” Lipton said. “This race also exposed how broken our election system remains. Let’s be clear: eligible Queens voters were disenfranchised by the mistakes and incompetence of the BOE.  We must enact reforms to ensure that every vote is counted.”

Cabán said she would continue to advocate for justice reforms and would continue being a feature in activism in Queens.

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