The Board of Elections yesterday certified the results of a manual recount in the contested primary, which took place over a month ago on June 25. The board declared that Borough President Melinda Katz received 34,920 votes, while political newcomer and progressive upstate Tiffany Caban received 34,680.
That is a scant 60 votes separating them!
It’s a stunning reversal for Caban, who was claiming victory on Election Night when she held about a 1,000-vote lead on Katz.
But Katz refused to concede, and after the absentee and provisional ballots were tallied, Katz held just a 16-vote lead.
Now it’s Katz’s turn to claim victory, hosting a thank you party for supporters and volunteers in Forest Hills on Monday night after the board’s announcement.
“I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of the families of Queens, and to beginning the critical work of instituting true criminal justice reform, ensuring fairness and equity, and keeping the people of this borough safe,” Katz said in a statement.
So that appears to be the end of that except, of course, it isn’t. Caban doesn’t plan to give up that easily.
Her campaign plans to file a legal motion looking to restore ballots that she says were improperly invalidated during the recount.
At a July 17th court hearing, a judge ruled the legal action couldn’t proceed until the BOE certified the results. Now that it has, the matter will head to a court.
The Caban campaign alleges a lot of improprieties, but chief among them is that votes cast for Caban were improperly thrown out.
The campaign also says there were a number small mistakes made by the BOE that led to votes being invalidated, such as poll workers failing to instruct voters to write the word “Democrat” on affidavit ballots and the wrong ballots being sent to some polls.
So this will likely drag on for a little bit longer.
There isn’t really such a thing as a moral victory in politics, but the challenge Caban mounted to the Democratic machine-backed Katz is amazing.
And we’re not just talking about her strong showing at the polls. After the defeat of Joseph Crowley at the hands of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we don’t take anything for granted anymore.
We’re talking more about the legal challenge she has been able to sustain. It says a lot about her ability to raise funds to continue to fight the election’s outcome as legal fees continue to pile up. This certainly isn’t going to be cheap in the end.
Katz, on the other hand, doesn’t have to pay a cent for her legal representation, which is all taken care of by the Democratic Party. Under election law, officially recognized political parties can help chosen candidates monetarily to a nearly unlimited degree.
Which is usually how the party keeps challengers at bay, primarily through challenging petitions to get on the ballot. The plan is to get lesser-known candidates with limited monetary resources tied up in court proceedings and force them from the race.
But Caban has been able to fight back.
During the first two weeks of July – a week after the primary and when most voters likely stopped paying attention – Caban was able to raise over $200,000, or about $20,000 per day. That’s an impressive haul for any candidate, let alone for one who isn’t actually campaigning, but simply challenging an election’s results.
With that kind of encouraging grassroots support, we don’t think we have heard the last of Caban. If this legal challenge doesn’t pan out, we hear there’s going to be an opening for borough president!