Representative Lee Zeldin, a staunch conservative from Long Island and the leading Republican candidate in next year’s race for governor in New York, revealed that he was diagnosed with leukemia last year and has been receiving treatment.
Mr. Zeldin, 41, told attendees at an Ontario County Republican Party dinner on Friday night that he had been grappling with the diagnosis of early-stage chronic myeloid leukemia since November 2020. He confirmed on Saturday in a text message to The New York Times that he had cancer, and then released a statement.
“Over the last nine months, I have achieved complete remission, am expected to live a normal life, and my doctor says I currently have no evidence of this disease in my system,” Mr. Zeldin, one of the most vocal supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, said. “My health is phenomenal, and I continue to operate at 110 percent.”
Mr. Zeldin had mentioned his diagnosis partly because the Ontario County party chairwoman, Trisha Turner, had been facing her own health crises. State Assemblyman Brian Kolb said that Mr. Zeldin had brought her roses, and drew a parallel to her struggles and his own. Mr. Kolb recalled Mr. Zeldin saying he had wanted to make sure that he had his illness under control before he began campaigning earlier this year.
In the statement, Mr. Zeldin said that he had no side effects from his treatment, and he brushed aside the question of whether the diagnosis would have implications for him as he pursues the governorship, ticking off the places he’s visited around the state.
“I have also not missed any Army Reserve duty as a result of this diagnosis,” Mr. Zeldin said. He shared a statement from his hematologist, Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca, saying that Mr. Zeldin now has “no evidence of disease.”
Mr. Zeldin announced his candidacy for governor in April, with an eye toward unseating the incumbent at the time, Andrew M. Cuomo, a three-term Democrat who was elected in 2010.
“The bottom line is this: To save New York, Andrew Cuomo’s got to go,” Zeldin said when he declared his candidacy.
Mr. Cuomo was, at the time, enmeshed in scandal after a string of sexual harassment complaints had emerged against him from former and current employees. By the time a report by the attorney general, Letitia James, was released in August, the number of accusers had grown to 11.
Mr. Cuomo denied the bulk of the accusations, even as Ms. James’s report affirmed the complaints. He resigned a week later, and his exit has reshaped the election.
Also running for governor as a Republican is Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City. The younger Mr. Giuliani worked in the White House while Mr. Trump was there, and he has presented himself as something of an amalgamation of his father and the former president.
But Mr. Trump and the former mayor are not particularly popular in the densest downstate regions of New York, a state where Democrats outweigh Republicans in registration.
Mr. Zeldin has amassed most of the institutional support among Republicans statewide, and in his statement he described himself as the “presumptive” Republican candidate. In previous election cycles for governor, the establishment’s choice for the Republican nominee has at times been swamped by a grass-roots candidate. Such was the case in 2010, when Carl Paladino, a businessman from Western New York, handily defeated Rick Lazio, the former Long Island congressman, by roughly 2-1 votes in the primary.
But both Mr. Zeldin and Mr. Giuliani are running as more state-specific versions of Mr. Trump, making such differentiation in a primary more difficult.
Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics