Updated: Feb. 20, 2023, 1:36 p.m. | Published: Feb. 20, 2023, 8:09 a.m.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The crowds began forming before dawn on Monday in anticipation of a speech by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Staten Island.
Major media outlets have been broadcasting live from the scene all morning on Presidents Day outside the Privé catering hall in Annadale.
The governor, who is expected to declare his Republican run for president this spring, will be a special guest at a discussion on protecting law enforcement in New York according to Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore).
Mayor Eric Adams chastised DeSantis via social media.
“Welcome to NYC, @GovRonDeSantis, a place where we don’t ban books, discriminate against our LGBTQ+ neighbors, use asylum seekers as props, or let the government stand between a woman and health care,” the mayor posted on his Twitter feed. “We’re happy to teach you something about values while you’re here.”
Inside the catering hall, about 75 supporters are filling a room with a large American Flag draped over a stage where DeSantis will speak.
Some attendees are wearing T-shirts that say “DeSantis 2024,” leaving no doubt that they would support the Florida governor in the next presidential election.
Pro law-enforcement apparel also is being prominently worn by some participants.
The crowd is being serenaded with music that runs the gamut from country to classic rock.
Tyler Armour of Manhattan, a big fan of Ron Desantis and first-time voter who plans to attend St. John’s University in September, was among the autograph seekers in the lines that began forming as early as 6 a.m.
“We’re excited to have Governor DeSantis on Staten Island, as it just proves that Staten Island is a political base for the Republican party, as it has been since John C. Fremont headquartered the first presidential campaign here in 1856,” said Borelli.
“On Staten Island, we are proud to support our law enforcement,” said Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R-Mid-Island), chairman of the Staten Island Republican Party. “I’m happy that our law enforcement community will get some recognition and support.”
A request for comment from the Florida governor’s office went unanswered on Sunday.
Staten Island has historically voted more Republican than Democrat — an outlier when compared to the rest of the boroughs in New York City. This was seen last Election Day when the GOP red wave hit the borough.
DeSantis won a commanding reelection, and his allies expect him to make a 2024 presidential announcement after the state legislative session, which ends in May. He would run against former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy in November.