Same-sex marriage was one of the biggest issues heading into the primary election Thursday for three Senate republicans. As Nick Reisman explains, in the end, two of the incumbents are facing nail-biters that may not be decided for weeks.
NEW YORK STATE -- Two Senate Republicans who backed same-sex marriage last year are in the fight of their political lives.
Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie has a narrow lead over his primary opponent, Neil DiCarlo. Senator Roy McDonald of Saratoga trails his rival, County Clerk Kathy Marchione, by more than 200 votes.
DiCarlo said, “They remembered the issues that resonated with me and they remembered the issues that were important to their families. And they remember what he did in June 2011 and it's payback time.”
The legalization of same-sex marriage passed last year thanks in part to the four Republicans who backed the measure. Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, considered to be the most vulnerable of the four, cruised to a primary win on Thursday, despite anti-gay mailers questioning his loyalty to the GOP.
“I'm not going to get into the nasty stuff that was portrayed upon me and my family. I stay above the fray,” Grisanti said.
But for Saland and McDonald, their fate is now being determined by absentee ballots. Regardless of the outcome, the National Organization For Marriage, an anti-gay marriage group, says the point of angering social conservatives has been made. Marchione was a last-minute recipient of $9,000 in money from the group.
“Same-sex marriage, his evolution into that. It's all about integrity,” Marchione said.
But Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, who presided in the Senate during the same-sex marriage vote, says the primary results send a different message to those in public life.
Duffy said, “I think the sad thing about politics today is you have some very good public servants on both sides of the aisle, whether it be the marriage equality issue or others and get involved in a very controversial topic and those that oppose it go out of their way to drive them out of office. In essence they're creating an environment where quite frankly the courage level of elected officials goes down dramatically.”
All three of the GOP lawmakers have received donations from wealthy backers of same-sex marriage, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.