Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis skipped a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser for New York gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) on Aug. 28 because of an “unforeseen tragedy,” according to a Zeldin spokesperson.
“An unforeseen tragedy forced Governor DeSantis to reschedule his trip to New York,” Zeldin’s spokeswoman, Katie Vincentz, told the New York Post. “While we’re rescheduling with Governor DeSantis for a later date, tonight’s fundraiser will proceed and is expected to raise almost a million dollars.”
Vincentz didn’t elaborate on the circumstances, and neither DeSantis nor his team made a public comment about the specifics of the matter on Aug. 29.
A spokesperson for DeSantis pointed to the governor’s schedule in a comment to The Epoch Times later on Aug. 29. At 11 a.m., the governor was scheduled to attend a funeral in Miami for Jose Perez, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent who was killed in the line of duty, according to his schedule.
Zeldin, a congressman from Long Island, is running against Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was lieutenant governor until former Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped down amid allegations of misconduct that he categorically denied.
In recent days, Hochul has disparaged Florida and DeSantis. Several weeks ago, Hochul criticized that state during a Holocaust memorial event.
“I just want to say to the 1.77 million Jews who call New York home: Thank you for calling New York home,” Hochul said. “Don’t go anywhere or to another state. Florida is overrated … look at the governor.”
When it was announced DeSantis would be heading to New York, state Democratic leaders criticized the move and attacked Zeldin.
“Lee Zeldin and Ron DeSantis are not just any Republicans,” state Chairman Jay Jacobs said in a recent Zoom call, without elaborating. “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.”
DeSantis is facing his own reelection battle against former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat. Meanwhile, he’s deflected questions about a rumored presidential bid in 2024.
In a recent CNN interview, Crist, also a former congressman, said he needs more money to take on DeSantis; otherwise, the governor will grow too popular and powerful in his state.
“It is the Democrats’ last chance to stop him, and it’s going to be a lot cheaper to do it in Florida than it would be in 50 states,” Crist told CNN, while repeatedly plugging his campaign website.
Earlier this year, DeSantis confirmed that his wife, Casey, was free of cancer—coming months after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ivan Pentchuokov contributed to this report.