Tiffany Cabán, who shocked New York City’s political and legal communities by coming from nowhere to nearly get elected Queens district attorney in 2019, is now planning to run for New York City Council.
Sources say Cabán, a Democrat, is moving towards announcing her candidacy in City Council District 22, which covers the Western Queens neighborhoods of Astoria and East Elmhurst, as well as the city’s jail complex on Rikers Island. City Council Member Costa Constantinides currently holds the seat, but will be term-limited out at the end of 2021. The Democratic primary is expected to be held in June 2021.
Cabán, 33, was born in Richmond Hill and now lives in the 22nd District near Astoria Park. She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and enjoyed the group’s strong support in her run for district attorney, which bodes well for her chances in what may be the one district in the city that is most friendly to democratic socialism. Assembly candidate Zohran Mamdani, who was endorsed by the New York City Democratic Socialists of America, won a Democratic primary this year in a district with similar boundaries. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents much of the district in Congress, and Cynthia Nixon outperformed Gov. Andrew Cuomo in much of the district in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. And in their neck-and-neck primary race, this was the area where Cabán outperformed Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz the most, getting 6,304 votes to Katz’s 1,089.
Cabán would be expected to get DSA’s support in this race, and she seems interested. Other campaigns were tipped off to her likely candidacy when Cabán submitted a questionnaire seeking the NYC-DSA’s endorsement.
Monica Klein, a progressive political consultant who has worked for Cabán, declined to comment on a possible City Council campaign. Other Cabán allies also declined City & State’s request for comment.
But rumors of Cabán’s likely entrance into the race are already shaking up the primary. Eight candidates have already registered to run, including Nick Roloson, Constantinides’ chief of staff who has already received the incumbent’s endorsement, and Jesse Cerrotti, a progressive organizer who volunteered on Cabán’s campaign.
Candidates on the left may reconsider running if a popular figure like Cabán enters the race. But at least one candidate is publicly welcoming the challenge. “The more the merrier,” said Rod Townsend, the former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, noting that he has always encouraged people to run for office and can’t stop now.
Political observers began speculating about what Cabán would do next after she fell to the much more politically powerful and experienced Katz by just 60 votes. Cabán, a public defender, didn’t pursue any office in 2020, instead taking a staff position as a national organizer with the Working Families Party. She never fell out of the spotlight – she made her own political endorsements this year, separate from the WFP, and City & State recently named her as one of the most politically influential Latinos in the state.
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