According to the Reverend Donald Havrilla of the Southampton Full Gospel Church, George Demos will not be at Tuesday night’s event.
“George Demos is afraid to come,” the Rev. Havrilla said on Tuesday afternoon. “At the last minute, he said he was not coming and had given some weak excuses as to why he’s not coming in [an] email.”
In a statement, Kevin Tschirhart, a spokesman for Mr. Demos, said the event was improper as it appeared to be giving Mr. Zeldin a second chance at a debate that Mr. Zeldin failed at on Friday on LI News Radio.
“Clearly Zeldin did very poorly and his supporters are attempting to have a do-over,” Mr. Tschirhart said. “A debate organized, sponsored and moderated by Zeldin supporters is illegitimate. This is a ridiculous proposal and unfortunately looks a lot like the Zeldin campaign.”
The Rev. Havrilla said the church had earlier confirmation from Mr. Demos’s staff that he was coming, but then that changed when they said he wanted private security guards or police officers at the debate. Later, Mr. Demos’s staff said there would be known Lee Zeldin supporters there and he would not be coming, according to the reverend.
Mr. Tschirhart said, however, it was never confirmed that Mr. Demos was going to attend the debate because Mr. Tschirhart was concerned it was going to be a set up.
“Lee Zeldin will be here as far as we’re concerned,” the Rev. Havrilla added. “It appears there may be an empty chair tonight.”
Rev. Havrilla said the event is still on for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the church—with or without Mr. Demos.
A debate featuring the two Republicans fighting for the right to attempt to unseat incumbent U.S. Representative Tim Bishop will be held on Tuesday, May 27, starting at 7 p.m., at the Southampton Full Gospel Church on County Road 39.
State Senator Lee Zeldin, an attorney who lives in Shirley, has already received the endorsement of the Suffolk County Republican Committee. He is being challenged in a primary election next month by George Demos, a former prosecutor for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who lives in Stony Brook.
The primary election is set for Tuesday, June 24. The winner of that race will challenge Mr. Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, in November for the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
All are welcome to attend and participate in Tuesday’s debate. Call (631) 283-6829 for more details.