Tuesday night brought an historic upset triggered by an insurgent candidate running against the Queens political establishment.
No, not Tiffany Cabán — this one was a landslide.
Lumarie Maldonado Cruz scored a resounding victory in the borough’s first primary for a civil court judge seat in over a decade, defeating the Queens Democratic Party’s pick, Wyatt Gibbons, by more than 17,000 votes.
Maldonado Cruz, 47, told THE CITY Wednesday she owed her victory to people that are “hungry for change.”
“From the very beginning, people realized that the communities all throughout Queens are being underserved, undermined and ignored,” Maldonado Cruz said. “Last night was another example as to how people will not sit on the sidelines anymore.”
With Cabán leading in the district attorney primary race and Maldonado Cruz’s resounding win, the Queens Democratic Party suffered a double blow.
Maldonado Cruz said she believes Tuesday’s results send “a clear message again that people are taking their power back.”
“Reform starts from within and it is about time that the legal system treats everyone with fairness regardless of race gender creed or other traits,” she said. “It’s about time that the people who bear that responsibility do so without bias or favor.”
Maldonado Cruz, a former Bronx resident who recently moved to Jackson Heights, is currently an attorney for the Character and Fitness Committee of the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Manhattan, which conducts background checks on individuals seeking admission to the New York bar.
Another AOC Fan
Like Cabán, Maldonado Cruz says she was inspired to run by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ upset victory last year over party leader Joe Crowley.
One attorney active in Queens politics said Maldonado Cruz’s victory was “the real countywide loss” for the Democrats. The attorney predicted more civil court primaries to come — and said politically ambitious people will stop “waiting their turn” to be picked by the establishment.
Maldonado Cruz acknowledged the energy the district attorney race and Cabán’s grassroots movement gave to primary day — and to her Civil Court run.
Ron Kuby, a longtime defense and civil rights attorney, said that many of Maldonado Cruz’ votes likely came from Cabán supporters.
“They showed up with a mindset that cis heteronormative straight white guys who are old shouldn’t be running everything,” Kuby said. “It’s time for other people with diverse backgrounds and different experiences to take over.”
Civil Court judges serve 10-year terms. They can be promoted to criminal court and ultimately, to state Supreme Court.
Maldonado Cruz runs is set to run unopposed on Nov. 5, and said that “God willing,” she will be donning judge’s robes on Jan 1.
She goes back to her day job at the Appellate Division on Monday.
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