With the recount process set to begin Tuesday in the tense Tiffany Cabán-Melinda Katz Democratic primary battle for Queens district attorney, both campaigns are tallying more than just votes.
Insurgent candidate Cabán, with about $35,000 left to spend, is invoking the electoral stalemate in fundraising pitches. Recent emails ask supporters for contributions to ensure a fair recount against a “party machine that has ruled local politics and suppressed democracy for decades.”
Meanwhile, Queens Democratic Party stalwart and Borough President Katz has about $332,000 on hand. But that’s offset by nearly $360,000 in outstanding bills, the bulk of which she owes to consulting firm Red Horse Strategies, records show.
Katz attorneys Michael Reich and Frank Bolz are volunteering their services, said Matthew Rey, a campaign spokesperson. He added that the campaign is now “just starting to raise money” for the recount and general election.
Prominent election attorney Jerry Goldfeder and Renée Paradis, Bernie Sanders’ former voter protection director, are on Cabán’s payroll.
Katz, who initially appeared to have lost the crowded June 25 primary race to Cabán by 1,199 votes, pulled ahead by a mere 16 last week after a count of paper ballots.
The thin margin triggered a full recount of some 91,000 votes, which is expected to take at least a week — and every day will cost the campaigns. Both candidates have already spent upwards of $450,000 each in the past month, campaign disclosure forms filed last week show.
Sarah Steiner, an election lawyer and a former chair of the New York City Bar election law committee, noted there are “almost never recounts this big.”
“Recounts are usually in a single district,” Steiner said. “Usually, they’re in the smaller races. By sheer scale of larger races, usually the gaps between voters exceed the half of one percent in a recount.”
Just before the recount begins, attorneys for Cabán and Katz are scheduled to appear in state Supreme Court. Judge Jeremy Weinstein is expected to rule on whether 114 affidavit ballots with missing information should be validated and counted.
Despite recent accusations by the Katz campaign that Cabán’s team was cherrypicking affidavits favorable to her and effectively suppressing votes, both sides agree that every valid ballot should be counted.
“More than 100 affidavit ballots from registered and eligible Democrats were wrongly invalidated by the [city Board of Elections] — and we will be in court Tuesday morning to make sure these voters are not disenfranchised,” said Monica Klein, a Cabán spokesperson.
Reminds me of a Warren Zevon song. Send lawyers, votes and money