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New York Democrats continue their attacks on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Marta Lavandier
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, on Monday, May 9, 2022.

New York’s Democratic Party leaders are criticizing a fundraiser to be held Sunday by the Republican candidate for governor, Lee Zeldin, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They said both hold views that the majority of New Yorkers find to be extreme. It’s not the first time that top New York Democrats, including Governor Kathy Hochul, have targeted the Florida governor.

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

“Lee Zeldin and Ron DeSantis are not just any Republicans,” said Jacobs. “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 has not highlighted that during his campaign. Instead he's 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.

The state’s current lieutenant governor, 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 following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists. In it, Zeldin falsely claimed that there were irregularities in the election process in Arizona and Wisconsin and other states.

Delgado said not acknowledging that Joe Biden won the election threatens the nations’ democracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then on August 22, during a rally the evening before a special election for the 19 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 Governor 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."

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.