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Republican New York state senators who voted for marriage equality hoping to eke out primary wins

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Last year, four GOP state senators in New York voted in favor of the marriage equality bill that allowed couples to marry in the state: Mark Grisanti, Stephen Saland, Roy McDonald and James Alesi.  Soon after their votes, the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which had worked to prevent the law’s passage, announced a 4-year campaign strategy to overturn the newly-passed marriage rights bill by electing anti-gay politicians to the state legislature.

Squarely in NOM’s cross-hairs, not surprisingly, were those four Republican senators who voted for marriage equality.  One, James Alesi, announced in May that he would retire and not seek reelection, but the other three were on the ballot last night in the state’s primary elections.

Mark Grisanti, who was the target of a bizarre campaign attack that included a homophobic flier that read, “How far will a politician go to get in your pant$?  For his Gay Marriage vote, Mark Grisanti received over $750,000.  Sometimes they’re political whore$,” won a resounding victory, with a little over 60 percent of the vote.

But the other two senators primaries, however, resulted in deadlocked votes that remain too close to call, according to POLITICO:

The two Senators, Roy McDonald and Stephen Saland, both representing more conservative areas north of New York City, were within a few hundred votes of their primary challengers. McDonald had been watched closely, but Saland’s close race came as a surprise.

[T]hey’re a reminder that the GOP base remains in a different place on same-sex marriage than some of the party’s prominent fundraisers and former officials, even in a blue state like New York.

According to the primary election tracker conducted by the New York Times, as of 11:22 a.m. Eastern time today, Stephen Saland is ahead of his opponent, Neil Di Carlo, by just 42 votes, or .4 percent, with all precincts reporting.  Roy McDonald, on the other hand, trails his challenger, Kathleen Marchione, by 138 votes, or .5 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.  We’ll update this post (or write a new one) once the results are confirmed.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  September 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm


  • 2. John_B_in_DC  |  September 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    There's another way to look at this. The McDonald & Saland races are both extremely close and depending on absentee votes, could still go either way. But even if both end up losing, think what this means: nearly 50% of REPUBLICAN voters in relatively conservative districts were willing to vote for candidates who support same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the NOM-backed challenger to Grisanti was trounced. So I see this glass as half-full, and then some.

  • 3. Bill S.  |  September 15, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Unfortunately, it could mean that the on-the-fence New Jersey Republican lawmakers will be more hesitant to flip on the veto over-ride vote.

  • 4. jason walter  |  September 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    <img src=""/>Let's all spread the word and give these senators big support. <img src=""/&gt;

  • 5. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  September 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

    […] few weeks ago, I wrote a post here about the primary election fates of the three New York senators who had voted for the […]

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