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NYC district attorney primary race too close to call

By Nicholas Sakelaris

June 26 (UPI) -- New York City election officials are trying to determine Wednesday who will likely become the first female district attorney in Queens this fall.

The Democratic primary was held in the borough Tuesday between Tiffany Caban, a progressive criminal justice reformer, and establishment candidate Melinda Katz. Caban holds a slim lead -- a little more than 1,000 ballots -- over Katz, who has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and labor unions.

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Although ballots are still being counted and no concession has been made, Caban claimed victory.

"They said we could not build a movement from the grass roots," she told supporters. "They said we could not win. And we did it."

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Katz said she will call for a recount if she comes out on the losing end. About 3,400 absentee and military ballots won't be counted until July 3.

"This thing ain't over folks," Queens Democratic leader Gregory Meeks said. "Every vote will be counted."

Whoever wins the primary will be the favorite against the Republican nominee in November's general election. Longtime DA Richard Brown died in office last month after nearly 30 years in the post.

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There were seven candidates in the race Tuesday vying for the party nomination in the heavily Democratic borough. Preliminary figures showed Caban garnered nearly 40 percent of the vote to Katz's 38 percent.

Caban is backed by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She vowed to address both crime and disparities in the criminal justice system she says have unfairly targeted minority and low-income groups. She would also legalize prostitution and end cash bail and civil asset forfeitures.

Supporters for Katz say she will be fair and level the playing field.

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"The things we get arrested for, other ethnicity don't get the same treatment," Queens resident Mabel Mapp said.

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