New York Senate Contests Poised to Send Message

The fate of Republican senators who voted for marriage equality could send a signal to lawmakers in other states, but how strong a sign depends on the outcome of the races this Tuesday.

BY Julie Bolcer

November 02 2012 6:00 AM ET

Pictured: An antigay mailer attacks Grisanti.

 

NOM, on the other hand, has argued that the primary outcomes show the political perils of voting for marriage equality, where the incumbents faced difficulties despite extraordinary financial advantages. The Republican senators received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from figures such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund manager Paul Singer, industrialist David Koch, and Proposition 8 attorney Ted Olson.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who pushed for the marriage equality legislation, acknowledged in a letter to McDonald that the vote was a “contributing factor” in his defeat. The popular Democrat offered his endorsement had McDonald, a two-term incumbent from Saratoga County, decided to run as a third-party candidate, but the senator declined to continue his bid. His name will still appear on the Independence Party line in the race, which pits Marchione against Democrat Robin Andrews, a married lesbian seeking to become the first openly gay woman elected to the state senate.

Cuomo has since endorsed Senator Saland in the general election campaign. The 11-term incumbent from Poughkeepsie faces Di Carlo, the Conservative Party candidate, and Democrat Terry Gipson in a district with about 8,000 more enrolled Democrats than Republicans.

During the primary, Di Carlo sent mailers mocking Saland for his marriage equality vote. One mailer depicted the senator as a “puppet” of Bloomberg, while another showed him holding the hands of his “two daddies,” Bloomberg and Cuomo, under the headline “New York’s Modern Political Family.”

Senator Grisanti, a first-term incumbent from Buffalo, won his primary against Kevin Stocker by a wide margin. Like Saland, he was targeted with mailers that criticized his marriage equality vote as motivated by money. One mailer of mysterious origins, circulated over email but apparently never mailed, used pornographic images of two men and asked, “How far will a politician go to get in your pants?”

Grisanti leads polling for the general election contest. His opponents include Democrat Mike Amodeo and Conservative Party candidate Chuck Swanick, who has been endorsed by NOM.

NOM did not return requests for comment, but one irony of the campaign against the Republican incumbents would appear to be the threat it poses to the GOP’s slim 33-29 control of the state senate. A Democratic-controlled state senate, which arguably could expedite measures such as long delayed transgender rights legislation, would seem to be a less favorable outcome for the organization.

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