040721 WES RI Gov. McKee at COVID clinic hh 38159.JPG

RI Gov. Daniel McKee chats with State Sen. Dennis Algiere during his tour of the COVID-19 regional vaccination clinic at the Westerly Senior Center on Wednesday morning, April 7, 2021. Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

PROVIDENCE (AP) — Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said Sunday he has canceled a fundraising event that was being organized on his behalf by a prominent supporter of former President Donald Trump.

McKee had been scheduled to attend a May 12 event co-hosted by Gerald Zarrella, a Republican who was co-chair of Trump’s Rhode Island re-election campaign. But when the Democrat learned who was behind the fundraiser, he said he asked to call it off.

“I do not want to be associated with Donald Trump in any way, shape, or form. I do not like Trump,” McKee said in a statement released Sunday. “He is dishonest, divisive, and his ‘Big Lie’ is a threat to our democracy.”

McKee added that there is “no place for a Trump spokesperson” to host any of his events.

Zarrella told The Providence Journal there were no hard feelings over the decision. Zarrella said he agreed to host the event at has farm in Exeter to offer attendees a chance to talk with the governor. It was being co-hosted by Zarrella’s business partner, Tommy Santilli.

But Zarrella, a Democrat-turned-Republican, offered advice to McKee, saying he should “go after the middle” and seek support from Democrats who voted for Trump.

Zarrella said he has not endorsed McKee, who became governor this year after former Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo left to become U.S. commerce secretary under President Joe Biden.

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