Zeldin halts campaign in Riverhead at rally and food drive event

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is considering the Republican nomination in next year’s gubernatorial race, made a campaign stop in Riverhead on Sunday morning.

The event, hosted by the Nofo Patriots group, was billed as a food donation campaign that turned into a political rally and car parade to Greenport, Shelter Island and South Fork. It all started with a rally in the old Walmart parking lot along Route 58 in Riverhead, where similar pro-Trump trailers started ahead of the 2020 election.

In a 20-minute speech, Mr. Zeldin addressed a crowd of nearly 100 supporters, freshly energized by the “red wave” that swept through Long Island in the November 2 general election.

“We need change,” Zeldin said. “We need a new direction for our country… and we need a balance in our state.”

During his speech, Mr. Zeldin spoke about the need to strengthen public safety, repeal state reforms on cashless bonds and support law enforcement officials. He said he was running as a “last resort” to save the state.

“We want you to stay and allow yourself to live here in New York,” he said, calling for a balance in Albany.

Mr. Zeldin also took hold of what has become a hotly debated topic in the suburbs regarding “parental rights”. Education issues range from mask warrants and COVID-19 restrictions to how children learn racism and even sex education, which Zeldin says is often not “appropriate for the job.” age ”for children.

“We believe our students should go to school for a quality education,” he said. “Don’t try to indoctrinate our children – don’t try to brainwash our children.”

Mr Zeldin’s hometown of Shirley and Mastic Beach remains at the bottom of vaccination rates in Suffolk County, according to data from the New York Department of Health. Although he said he was fully immunized, his messages to 313,000 followers on Twitter focused entirely on anti-warrants.

Some of the vehicles participating in the parade had flags and messages written on the windows such as “We will not comply” and “Unmask the children”.

In addition to American flags and “thin blue line” flags, some also featured messages such as “Trump Won” and “Let’s Go Brandon,” an anti-Biden slogan.

Several police officers from Riverhead Town were on the scene as a safety measure and to help direct traffic. As Mr. Zeldin finished his remarks, a woman in the crowd who was not in the trailer was heckled as she asked him to comment on the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill.

Although this led to a brief moment of tension between the woman and other people in the crowd, police at the scene said there had been no incidents.

Mr Zeldin served two terms in the New York State Senate starting in 2010 before defeating former Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2014.

Since announcing his candidacy in April, he has garnered support from virtually every GOP leader in the county, including Nassau and Suffolk County. Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have also put out bids for the governorship.

New York has not had a Republican governor since Governor George Pataki’s term ended in 2007.

“We are going to have an election in which, 40 years from now, they will still be talking about the history of this group,” Zeldin said on Sunday. “We are going to elect a governor for the county of Suffolk for the first time. We’re going to have a bigger seat at the table than ever before. “

Mr Zeldin spoke on Sunday after recently voting against the Build Back Better bill and the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was enacted on Monday.

After Sunday’s rally, which included several other speakers, a caravan of more than 50 vehicles set out for the parade, which co-organizer Vinny Tirelli said was also organized to collect donations of food and ‘money for local pantries, General Needs, a local organization that helps homeless veterans, and Mission 22, which helps provide treatment for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans .

“We are a very patriotic group but what we want to do is show that it is not about party lines, it is not about politics,” Tirelli said. “Even though we are a Republican and Conservative organization, it’s about giving back to the people who need it right now. There are a lot of people going without this year, especially with everything that is going on. A lot of people are out of work.

By mid-morning, Mr Tirelli said the group had filled about four vans with food donations that will benefit the North and South Forks pantries.

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