New York Democrats continue attacks on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

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From left, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is challenging Hochul in this year's gubernatorial race. (Hochul's Flickr Page/DeSantis' Smugmug Page/WXXI File Photo)

The New York Post reported that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had to pull out of a fundraiser for New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on Long Island Sunday because of an “unforeseen tragedy.”

New York’s Democratic Party leaders have been criticizing Zeldin for the planned fundraiser with DeSantis.

The Democrats say both Zeldin and DeSantis hold views that the majority of New Yorkers find to be extreme. It’s not the first time that top New York Democrats, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, have targeted the Florida governor.

Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, on a Zoom call with reporters, tied Zeldin to DeSantis, saying they hold views that are “completely out of touch with New Yorkers’ priorities.” Jacobs said those views include opposition to abortion rights and Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law, which DeSantis backs, that prohibits teachers from mentioning sexual orientation in the classroom.

“Lee Zeldin and Ron DeSantis are not just any Republicans,” Jacobs said. “They are cut from the same cloth of a far-right fringe who want to roll back fundamental rights and push an extreme agenda on New Yorkers.”

Zeldin is anti-abortion, but he hasn’t highlighted that during his campaign. Instead, he’s been focusing on the state’s high taxes and improving the economy, as well as public safety issues, including the state’s controversial bail reform laws. His running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Alison Esposito, is openly gay.

Current Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado said both Zeldin and DeSantis are 2020 election deniers and continue to spread “dangerous” conspiracy theories about the election results.

Zeldin, who is a congressman from Long Island, objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. He delivered a speech on the House floor after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists. In it, Zeldin falsely claimed there were irregularities in the election process in Arizona and Wisconsin and other states.

Delgado said not acknowledging that President Joe Biden won the election threatens the nation’s democracy.

“He said, quote, ‘something that we’ll never know for sure,’” Delgado said. “The bottom line is that we do know for sure.”

Delgado said the federal Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread fraud.

The remarks by Jacobs and Delgado come after a string of criticisms by Hochul directed at DeSantis and his state. DeSantis is considered a front-runner for the 2024 presidential race if former President Donald Trump decides not to seek a second term.

Earlier this month, Hochul joked about a longtime trend among some older New Yorkers of moving to Florida when they retire.

“Don’t go anywhere else,” Hochul said on Aug. 10. “Florida is overrated. Look at the governor.”

Hochul then joked that she should “stay on script” or would “get in trouble.”

Then, on Aug. 22, during a rally the evening before a special election for the 19th Congressional District seat that pitted Democrat Pat Ryan against Republican Marc Molinaro, Hochul took another shot at DeSantis, as well as Trump.

“The era of Trump, and Zeldin and Molinaro – just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong. Get outta town!” Hochul said as the crowd cheered. “You don’t represent our values. You are not New Yorkers.”

The remarks were reminiscent of comments by her predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said in 2014 that conservatives who are against abortion and gun control measures are “extreme” and should leave the state.

Zeldin, in a video shot on his phone, called Hochul’s comments a “psycho” demand.

“What’s wrong with you? “Zeldin asks in the video.

“You’re supposed to be the governor of the whole state. How very tolerant of you,” Zeldin said sarcastically. “You’re not very good at this.”

Zeldin is highlighting Hochul’s remarks in a fundraising campaign, calling the governor a “tyrant.”