Representative Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, was attacked on Thursday at a campaign event outside Rochester by a man with a pointed weapon who dragged him to the ground before being subdued by several other men, according to officials and a video of the attack. Mr. Zeldin was not injured, a campaign representative said.
The video shows Mr. Zeldin, standing on the bed of a truck, addressing supporters gathered in a parking lot in Perinton, N.Y., when a man approaches him slowly from the right before trying to pull Mr. Zeldin down by the arm. Mr. Zeldin responds by grabbing the man’s wrist and is then joined by several men in containing the attacker.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Zeldin’s campaign said in a statement issued after the attack that he and members of his campaign staff were safe.
“Far more must be done to make New York safe again,” the spokeswoman, Katie Vincentz, said, putting the attack in the context of Mr. Zeldin’s tough-on-crime campaign message. “This is very much getting out of hand in this state. Unfortunately, Congressman Zeldin is just the latest New Yorker whose life has been affected by the out-of-control crime.”
Ms. Vincentz said the man had been taken into custody, but local law enforcement agencies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Information about the man’s identify, weapon and potential motivation were not immediately forthcoming Thursday night.
An onlooker in the video can be heard saying “he’s got a knife,” but exactly what type of weapon the man was wielding was not yet clear.
The incident comes at a time when actual and threatened political violence — including threats directed at members of Congress — are on the rise across the United States.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, Mr. Zeldin’s Democratic opponent, quickly condemned “this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.”
“Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody,” Ms. Hochul wrote on Twitter.
The event in Monroe County was the first stop on a planned weekend “Unite to Fire Hochul” bus tour across upstate New York to informally kick off Mr. Zeldin’s general election campaign. Alison Esposito, Mr. Zeldin’s running mate and a former New York City police officer, was with him at the event.
Mr. Zeldin, a 42-year-old fourth-term congressman from Long Island and an Army veteran, won the Republican nomination for governor handily last month.
He has made crime a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, using apocalyptic terms to paint a dark picture of the state of public safety and to appeal to New Yorkers’ sense of unease. He has specifically pinned blame on rising crime on Democrats and Ms. Hochul, calling on them to reinstate most cash bail and ratchet up policing.
Just hours before the attempted attack, Mr. Zeldin’s campaign had released its first digital advertisement of the general election, a lengthy spot attacking Ms. Hochul for refusing to fire Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, after he initially charged a bodega clerk who fatally stabbed an attacker with second-degree murder. Mr. Bragg dropped the charge on Tuesday, but he and his policies have been a frequent punching bag for the political right.
Mr. Zeldin faces an uphill battle as he tries to become the first Republican to win statewide in New York in two decades. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one in New York, and Ms. Hochul enters the race with a huge financial advantage. She hopes both factors will be a bulwark against favorable political conditions for Republicans nationwide.
Jesse McKinley contributed reporting.