WASHINGTON — New York Republican Peter King is boycotting a state party dinner tomorrow night featuring Sen. Ted Cruz over the Texas conservative's efforts to defeat a Hurricane Sandy bill earlier this year.
"I don't think we should be acknowledging people who are voting against us in our hour of need," King told BuzzFeed of his decision to not attend the dinner.
King has loudly criticized Republicans like Cruz who come to New York to raise money but voted against the Hurricane Sandy bill, and has urged other Republicans to freeze out opponents to the relief bill.
"Once I found it was him," King explained, "I decided not to go. I don't know if I would have gone or not because of scheduling things, but that made it easy once I found out it was Ted Cruz."
The New York Republican State Committee dinner invitation prominently notes that Cruz is "appearing at this event only as a featured guest. Senator Ted Cruz is not asking for funds or donations." The event will raise money for the state party committee and tickets are being sold for $1,000–$10,000.
"I said I would not have invited him," King said. "[Republican State Chairman] Ed Cox says it serves a purpose, I just disagree."
Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican whose district was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, told the New York Daily News he would also not be attending the dinner. But Grimm blasted Democrats who early tried to make an issue out of him attending the event.
"To use an event as tragic as Sandy to try and score a few cheap political points is beyond reprehensible, and I expect more from my NYC colleagues, who quite frankly should know better," Grimm said.
Cox defended Cruz's appearance at the dinner, arguing the senator supported aid for Sandy victims but that Senate Democrats had filled the bill with "pork," and that's why he had voted against it.
"Ted Cruz made it absolutely clear he was all for Sandy aid but he was against the pork which was stuffed in there by the Democrats, and that's what he was voting against," Cox said. "This is very much going to be about growth and opportunity, showing the diversity that is the Republican Party here in New York State."
UPDATE: A high ranking New York Republican complained to BuzzFeed that King's criticism of the dinner was "grandstanding."
"What Pete King is doing is grandstanding for the media. To call what Pete King is doing is a boycott sort of misses the point," the Republican said. "Pete King does nothing to help other Republicans in New York State other than Pete King. He hasn't been to a state dinner in anyone's recent memory."
Kate Nocera is the managing editor for BuzzFeed’s Washington, DC bureau. Nocera is a recipient of the National Press Foundation's 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting on Congress.
Contact Kate Nocera at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.