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Queens DA Katz declares victory in Democratic primary

Jun. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz declared victory in her primary race against two Democratic challengers Tuesday night.

Katz held a convincing lead over retired Judge George Grasso and public defender Devian Daniels, having secured nearly 71% of the vote with 97% precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning, June 28.

Grasso and Daniels each have approximately 14% of the vote,with Grasso ahead by only 163 votes as Wednesday morning.

Katz delivered her victory speech at the Queens Boulevard barbecue joint Queens Bully after she amassed an avalanche of endorsements from law enforcement unions and most major labor organizations in the city, nearly all of the borough’s Democratic elected officials, Mayor Eric Adams and, most recently, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who joined Katz during her victory party at Queens Bully.

“I thank the voters for instilling their trust in me once again and I look forward to the general election in November,” Katz said. “Let’s continue the work.”

Queens District Attorney delivers a speech during her election night party at Queens Bully on June 27.Photo by John Schilling

Throughout her campaign, Katz hammered home the point that she provided a steady hand running the Queens DA’s office through turbulent times, having been sworn in just months ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

“I’m so proud of the work my office has done through unprecedented challenges,” Katz said. “In the third month of my administration, the entire world shut down and my office didn’t skip a beat. We continued going after every gang member, every gun prosecution and everything that came through our office was taken care of no matter what the obstacles we were facing.”

She said she worked to keep Queens families safe by leading the effort to take illegal weapons and ghost guns off the streets and held human traffickers and domestic abusers accountable. At the same time, she has launched Queens’ first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit to ensure justice for those wrongfully convicted.

Grasso thought otherwise and retired from the bench in August with two years remaining in his term so he could challenge Katz, saying she had not done enough to address the spike in major crimes across the borough. Katz said the voters thought otherwise.

“This election was really about results versus rhetoric and the voters spoke loud and clear,” Katz said. “Today’s victory is an affirmation of my office’s tremendous work to keep Queens safe while implementing key initiatives to fix our criminal justice system and make it fairer.”

“Record-setting gang takedowns; a first-ever Conviction Integrity Unit; thousands of illegal guns off the streets; new bureaus and programs for domestic violence, human trafficking, wage theft; a degree of direct engagement with Queens’ many diverse communities that is unparalleled in the history of this office,” Katz continued. “This work is not simple, but we do it every single day to ensure a brighter, better borough for all.”

Throughout the campaign, Grasso said he was snubbed by Democratic clubs while the rest of the Queens political class threw their support behind Katz who he repeatedly called a career politician. Grasso served in the NYPD for more than 30 years rising through the ranks from a beat cop in the 113th Precinct all the way to first deputy commissioner at One Police Plaza before he stepped down to accept his first judgeship.

George Grasso address his supporters during his Election Night watch party at Connolly’s Corner in Maspeth on June 27.Photo by Anthony Medina

He arrived at Connolly’s Corner in Maspeth for a watch party and saw the disappointing numbers roll in.

 “I really believe my main opponent wasn’t Melinda Katz,” Grasso said, pointing to the low voter turnout on the screen, “it’s apathy. And you know, people talk on the street. And they complain about what’s going on. But why don’t they vote? I gave it everything I had, with the resources that I had.”

Additional reporting by Anthony Medina and John Schilling.

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