New York Republican Rep. Peter King said he won’t be attending his party’s annual state dinner Wednesday night because of featured guest Sen. Ted Cruz’s earlier efforts to scuttle a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
“I don’t think we should be acknowledging people who are voting against us in our hour of need,” said King to BuzzFeed. “Once I found it was him…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.”
As a newly-minted senator in January, Cruz voted against a slew of measures, including one that provided aid to victims devastated by Hurricane Sandy last October. In a statement, Cruz explained that he couldn’t vote for the package because “cynical politicians in Washington could not resist loading up this relief bill with billions in new spending utterly unrelated to Sandy.”
The $51 billion aid package ended up passing both houses of Congress despite similar protestations from fiscal conservatives.
Since then, Cruz has morphed into both a rising star, and deeply divisive figure within the GOP. The Tea Party favorite and rumored 2016 contender has spoken at numerous events, including the National Rifle Association’s annual convention earlier this month, and the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. (Cruz delivered the keynote address at CPAC.)
But Cruz has also created a rift within his own party, most recently declaring that he doesn’t “trust the Republicans” or the Democrats when it comes to solving the nation’s budget woes.
The New York Republican State Committee invited the polarizing Texas conservative to deliver the keynote address at Wednesday’s fundraising event–which, according to the group’s website, is meant to “showcase diversity.” Also in attendance will be representatives from the Latino National Republican Coalition, National Black Republican Council, Asian American Republican Committee, and several other groups.
“Tonight’s diverse group proves that the Republican tent is growing by the day,” said state Chairman Ed Cox, who also spoke out in defense of Cruz’s participation at the dinner, BuzzFeed reports.
“Ted Cruz made it absolutely clear he was all for Sandy aid, but he was against the pork which was stuffed in there by Democrats,” said Cox. “That’s what he was voting against.”
King disagreed, telling BuzzFeed he “would not have invited” Cruz.
“Ed Cox says it serves a purpose,” said King. “I just disagree.”