U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the GOP gubernatorial frontrunner whose congressional district covers the East End, was diagnosed last fall with cancer that is now in remission, the congressman confirmed Saturday.
He was diagnosed in November with early stage chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), for which his treatment had no side effects, and is now in remission, he said in a statement. He reportedly first disclosed the diagnosis Friday at an Ontario County GOP dinner, multiple news outlets reported.
“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,” Zeldin said in a statement. “My health is phenomenal and I continue to operate at 110%. At no point have I slowed down at all and my lowest gear is always all in.”
In 2018, there were an estimated 61,698 people living with chronic myeloid leukemia—a cancer of the blood and bone marrow—in the United States, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CML makes up 2% of all cancers and has a 70% five-year survival rate, according to the agency.
Zeldin, who has been traveling across the state to build support for his campaign since announcing his run for governor earlier this year, gained national exposure in being among the most prominent defenders of former President Donald Trump during Trump’s two impeachment proceedings. Before being elected to Congress in 2014, he served in the New York State Senate and in the Iraq War.
The congressman is challenging in the 2022 election Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, the former lieutenant governor from Buffalo who took over the state’s top job last month after per predecessor and former running mate, Andrew Cuomo, resigned amid an impeachment inquiry into his alleged sexual harassment of several women.
Despite Zeldin earning presumptive nominee status, he could still face a primary from fellow gubernatorial hopefuls Andrew Giuliani, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son, and ex-Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, among others.
Should his frontrunner status hold, Zeldin will likely forgo re-election to Congress next year, leaving a vacant seat for who will represent the Hamptons and the North Fork in the House of Representatives. Democratic candidates have already been lining up in that race, with Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) recently throwing her hat in the ring after Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) announced her second run at the seat.