Progressive Presidential Candidates Warren, Sanders endorse Cabán as Queens District Attorney

Photo by Naeisha Rose

Public defender Tiffany Cabán‘s “People Powered” campaign for the Queens District Attorney’s Office has garnered her the endorsements of two progressive firebrands who are running for the highest political office in the U.S.

Presidential hopefuls U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MS.) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) both endorsed Cabán Wednesday because of her campaign to end mass incarceration and to stand-up for working people.

“I’m proud to endorse Tiffany Cabán for Queens DA in New York. @CabanForQueens will fight for working families and work to end mass incarceration. Make sure you get out and vote for Tiffany next Tuesday, June 25th,” posted Warren on Twitter.

Sanders’ backing of Cabán was also to help shift the current political landscape by supporting a reformist candidate and others like her across all levels of government.

“No one person, not even the President of the United States, can create the kind of change we need alone. Real political change must occur at every level of government,” said Sanders. “We need great progressive candidates running for Congress, for governor, for the state house, for the city council, and for offices like District Attorney.”

Similar to his independent streak, Sanders is fond of Cabán’s prominence as an insurgent candidate and he believes that will bring about substantive criminal justice reform.

“Like our campaign, Tiffany is taking on virtually the entire political establishment. And like our campaign, Tiffany has put together the kind of grassroots effort it takes to win,” said Sanders. “They can have a meaningful impact on issues like ending cash bail and mass incarceration. They can shift the focus from a failed war on drugs to issues like white-collar crime in the financial sector, by pharmaceutical companies, and others.”

Cabán also received an endorsement from the New York Times’ executive board Tuesday. This comes on the heels of former Judge Greg Lasak receiving endorsements from the New York Daily News and the New York Post last week.

The New York Times found her grassroots campaign, which has received little-to-no support from the so-called “Queens Machine” or Queens County Democratic Party, refreshing.

“Ms. Cabán would come into office unencumbered by ties to the borough power structure and free to pursue her commitment to serve the community by doing more than just winning convictions,” according to the executive board. “Her seven years as a public defender have given her insight into how the system works, and how it ought to be changed.”

The Queens County Democratic Party, which has backed Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and its Chair Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica, Rockaways) had this to say about the endorsements and their pick for district attorney: 

“I saw today that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have decided to get involved in the DA race in Queens County. I don’t know who they spoke with, but clearly they did not speak with the Elected Officials of Queens County, or the people who elected them.

African Americans have the largest stake in this DA race, from reforming the criminal justice system, to ending racial disparities and stopping mass incarceration. Yet Warren and Sanders saw fit to endorse without even considering what African Americans thought.

Every African American official in Queens, with the exception of one, the Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie, Congress Member Hakeem Jeffries and the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, all of whom are black, and myself, as a member of Congress and the first black Queens County Democratic Chair… we all believe that Melinda Katz is best for Queens DA, yet we were never even asked what we thought.

African American voters are tired of the patronizing and tired of the arrogance. If they want to be the President for all Americans, I suggest they speak with us before they decide to speak for us.”

Mina Malik, a former prosecutor, was unshaken by the endorsements from the presidential candidates, according to her spokeswoman Antonya Jeffrey.

“This is an extremely serious election with important implications for Queens families and generations to come. Voters do not care about endorsements from early presidential candidates trying to give wings to their campaigns; Queens residents care about keeping their families safe,” said Jeffrey. “We are on the ground talking to residents, visiting senior centers and meeting with local agency leaders every day to develop community informed policy initiatives that will make the criminal justice system in Queens more fair, transparent and accountable. We are earning the trust of the voters door-to-door and we are confident that will be reflected in the election results on June 25th.”

The other opponents to Cabán in the race like Lasak, Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest), and former prosecutors José Nieves and Betty Lugo were not available for comment about the recent endorsements for their competitor and what impact it might have on their own campaigns.

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