Donald Trump is set to appear at a Jersey Shore fundraiser on Sunday for Rep. Lee Zeldin's gubernatorial campaign. The former president's support comes after he avoided getting involved in the four-way GOP primary for the party's nomination earlier this summer.
Couples can pay $25,000 to attend the 5 p.m. event in the summer-home destination of Deal, New Jersey, which includes admission to a VIP reception and a photo with Trump. (Don’t need the photo? Then $1,000 will get you in the door.)
Trump’s appearance could provide a fundraising boost to Zeldin, the Long Island congressman who has been significantly outraised by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. As of mid-July, Zeldin’s campaign had about $1.6 million on hand compared to Hochul’s $11.7 million.
But in deep blue New York, Hochul’s campaign and the state Democratic Committee have repeatedly tried to use Zeldin’s association with Trump to their advantage, highlighting Zeldin’s votes against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Zeldin will do and say whatever it takes to appeal to the far-right, even if it means raising money alongside the disgraced former president,” said Jerrel Harvey, a spokesperson for the Hochul campaign.
Zeldin’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment about the Trump event.
The fundraiser is being hosted by the Chera family — New York City real-estate moguls whose Crown Acquisitions Inc. owns Manhattan properties like the St. Regis hotel, 450 Park Avenue, 650 Madison Avenue, and the Cartier Mansion.
Crown's co-founder Stanley Chera, a longtime friend of Trump, died of COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020. Trump himself had referenced Chera from the White House while Chera laid ill.
The Chera family owns a summer home near Deal, the New Jersey borough where the invitation says the event is taking place. The family has hosted Trump at the home, which is in the nearby city of Long Branch, for fundraisers in the past.
The Cheras, however, may be hedging their bets, at least if their prior contributions in the New York governor’s race are any indication.
Haim Chera, one of Stanley Chera’s three sons, has contributed at least $22,000 to Hochul’s campaign, according to state disclosure records. His son, Stanley H. Chera, chipped in another $2,500.
Haim Chera is currently the head of retail for Vornado Realty Trust, the company behind the controversial Penn Station redevelopment plan backed by Hochul and one of the city’s largest office landlords.
Other members of the Chera family have backed Zeldin, including Isaac and Freida Chera, who contributed a combined $8,000 as of mid-July.
Neither Haim Chera nor Crown Acquisitions returned requests for comment Friday.
Zeldin was a staunch defender of Trump during the former president’s term in office, often appearing on cable news programs as a surrogate.
Trump's stumping for Zeldin’s gubernatorial campaign comes as the former president is embroiled in an investigation that alleges he removed sensitive government documents from the White House when he left office in January 2021.
During a campaign stop in the suburban Albany town of Colonie on Tuesday, Zeldin was asked about the FBI’s recent raid of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida and whether it will help or hurt Republicans.
"There's a whole lot more people who are far more motivated to get involved in this election because of how that transpired,” Zeldin told reporters. “I believe that what took place has a net negative effect for the Democrats.”
Trump, a native New Yorker, garnered about 38% of the New York vote in the 2020 election, after he picked up 37% in 2016.
He did not make an endorsement in the Jun. 28 GOP primary for governor, which — along with Zeldin — also included Trump allies Rob Astorino and Andrew Giuliani. (The fourth candidate, Harry Wilson, said he did not vote for Trump.)
In late July, a Siena College poll found just 32% of likely New York voters viewed Trump favorably. Of the 13 million total registered voters in New York, about 6.5 million are enrolled as Democrats and 2.8 million as Republicans.