ALBANY - Sen. Mark Grisanti's vote for gay marriage rights did not hurt him politically among Republicans, as evidence by his GOP primary victory last week in Erie County, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
But for two other Senate Republicans in other parts of upstate, whose primary contests last week are still too close to call, their pro-gay marriage votes last year clearly hurt them, the governor acknowledged today.
"I hope it works out for both gentlemen ... I hope they get re-elected,'' Cuomo said of Sen. Steve Saland, a Dutchess County Republican, and Sen. Roy McDonald, a Saratoga County Republican. Both GOP senators, along with Grisanti and a retiring senator from the Rochester area, broke with their party in June 2011 to join Democrats in casting votes to legalize gay marriage.
"Sen. Grisanti was successful. doesn't appear to be evidence that the vote hurt him,'' Cuomo told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday. That's not the case for McDonald and Saland, who are both awaiting final counts of absentee ballots to see if they will return to Albany in January.
"I know for a fact that all three of the gentlemen understood this possibility and we discussed it openly at the time they were voting,'' Cuomo said of the possible wrath by some GOP primary voters against those backing gay marriage rights. Cuomo said the votes by the Senate Republicans "showed character and integrity.''
If Saland and McDonald lose their primaries, Cuomo said, "It would be disappointing for me. This is a vote that I urged they support and they take.''
The most money from gay marriage rights critics in last week's 60th Senate District primaries, according to preliminary filings, went to Charles Swanick, who lost the Democratic primary to Michael Amodeo. Swanick still is running on the Conservative Party line in November against Grisanti and Amodeo.