By: Fern Sidman
As the New York gubernatorial race heats up, it has been reported that Long Island Congressman and GOP contender for the state’s highest office received a massive financial boost on Sunday afternoon.
Seeking to raise more funds for his campaign and to catch up to the war chest of incumbent Kathy Hochul, Rep. Zeldin received the assistance of former President Donald Trump.
As a vocal advocate of the nation’s 45th president, Zeldin has displayed his loyalty to Trump and on Sunday Trump returned the gesture by headlining a fundraiser on the Jersey Shore at the home of the family of long time friend and business associate, the late Stanley Chera. Trump and Chera shared a friendship for many years and now Chera’s three adult sons opened their Deal, New Jersey sprawling home off the ocean to host the fundraiser for Zeldin’s campaign. The Asbury Park Press reported that the former president has held two fundraisers for his presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020 at the home.
All together, Trump was able to raise $1.5 million for Zeldin which translates into the kind of cash infusion that his campaign needs at this juncture. According to a New York Post report that appeared over the weekend, Zeldin is catching up quite quickly to Hochul in the polls and only trails her by four percentage points.
The Trafalgar poll which was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday on last week spoke to 1,091 New Yorkers who are likely to cast their votes in the general election in early November. The results of the poll indicated that Hochul has 47.8% of the vote, with Zeldin at her heels at 43.4% of the votes, the Post reported.
If things don’t change all that much from now until election day, the chances of Zeldin clinching the election are significantly increasing.
The Post also reported that an additional 2.7% of respondents said they support Libertarian Larry Sharpe, with 6.7% undecided.
Things have changed a great deal since the last poll of New York voters was taken on August 23rd. That poll, which was conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of WNYT-TV in Albany showed that the current governor of the Empire State has 55% of the support from voters, which the challenger Zeldin has 31% of the backing of voters, the Post reported. 14% of voters polled were undecided on who they will pull the lever for on election day,
Taking to social media to disseminate the results of the polling. Rep. Zeldin posted on Twitter and Facebook, “People are fed up with Hochul’s feckless leadership.”
“ This poll underscores our unprecedented momentum. I know the… numbers are surprising,” Trafalgar Group pollster Robert Cahaly tweeted Saturday, according to the Post report.
“But we at Trafalgar Group have seen a big shift in favor of non incumbents since Biden announced his #studentloanforgiveness package,” Cahaly continued, according to the Post. “No other issue this cycle has enraged middle and working class voters more than this.”
The New York Post also reported that some audio footage of the event which was closed to the media revealed that Trump lavished praise and an abundance of accolades on Zeldin who he said helped him survive “impeachment hoax number one and impeachment hoax number two and a lot of scams … I had these maniacs against me. He was one of those great voices.”
Trump touted his administration’s success on efforts like moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem while praising Zeldin as someone who had leaned on his support going back to his first congressional run in 2014, according to audio obtained by The Post.
“He said, ‘You’re popular in New York. You’re popular in my district’ — and I liked him,” Trump said of his thinking at the time, the Post reported.
Newsmax reported that Zeldin likewise praised Trump, commenting that “there are people you meet in politics who you refer to as friends. They’re the people who show up the day after you win. They tell you they were there the whole time. I’m pretty sure they weren’t. But then they are our friends.”
He also noted that Trump has “strong supporters – people who believe in him, people who believe that his policies are right for America and that his policies still to this day are right for America,” according to the Newsmax.com report.
On the issue of predictions on the outcome of the race for governor, Zeldin said on Sunday, “The prediction was that George Pataki was going to lose by 11.5 points, and that wasn’t on Labor Day weekend. That was the week before the election. And George Pataki just days later went on to make history. We elected a Republican governor.”
Attendance for the fundraiser was $1,000 per person, with a VIP reception priced at $5,000; a photo opportunity at $25,000; and being designated as an “event chair” costing $100,000, according to an invitation to the event.
Zeldin is still facing a huge fundraising gap in the governor’s race against Hochul, who is arguing that his support for Trump means he is too extreme to serve, as was reported by the Post.
Firing back at Zeldin for his close association and vocal support for Trump, Hochul released the following statement in a press release, “Zeldin is desperately looking for cash and a path forward by doubling down on his allegiance to the far-right MAGA agenda.”
The Post reported that campaign filings from mid-July show Hochul with $11.7 million on hand compared to $1.6 million for Zeldin.
Also attending the Jersey Shore fundraiser were prominent members of the Syrian Jewish community who spend their summers vacationing in Deal as well as family, friends and colleagues of the late Stanley Chera.
Such GOP elected officials as Nassau Country Executive Bruce Blakeman, GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis who represents parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn and other local Republicans addressed the ebullient gathering in Long Branch.