Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for New York governor, was pulled to the floor during a tussle Thursday with a man who appeared to walk onstage and grab the candidate’s right arm in the middle of his speech, according to video of the event.
A witness’ video obtained by Spectrum News 1 shows a man wearing a ballcap walking onto the flatbed trailer Zeldin was speaking from in the village of Fairport, just east of Rochester.
Zeldin used his arm to hold the man back and grab the man's wrist, at which point, the man grabbed on and dragged Zeldin to the stage as at least three people subdued the trespasser. Zeldin appeared to escape unscathed and waited toward the back of the stage as the other people held the man down, the video showed.
In a statement, Zeldin’s campaign said the man “attempted to stab” Zeldin. Police had not yet commented as of 10 p.m. Thursday.
“Congressman Zeldin, [lieutenant governor nominee] Alison Esposito and all members of Team Zeldin are safe following tonight’s attack,” Zeldin spokesperson Katie Vincentz said in a statement. “Far more must be done to make New York safe again.”
Witnesses posted photos to social media that showed the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scuffle. The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.
In a tweet, Gov. Kathy Hochul – Zeldin’s Democratic opponent – said she had been briefed on the incident.
“Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody,” she tweeted. “I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.”
Zeldin was on the first leg of a four-day, 13-stop “Unite to Fire Hochul” bus tour that will take him to all corners of the state. It’s slated to finish up Sunday in Queens.
Earlier in the day, Hochul's campaign issued a news release spoofing Zeldin's packed campaign schedule – though it did not include any locations for the events. Still, New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy criticized Hochul for the release, saying it was unbecoming of a governor.
"Thanks to the swift action of several brave eventgoers, the perpetrator was subdued," Langworthy said in a statement. "Congressman Zeldin and all of the attendees are safe, but this could have ended much worse."