Gov. Andrew Cuomo voiced support Wednesday for a pair of Republican senators who face uncertain electoral futures, saying there is “evidence” their votes in favor of same-sex marriage hurt them in last week’s primary elections.
Three of four GOP senators who voted in 2011 to legalize same-sex marriage in New York faced intra-party challenges last week, while the fourth — Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, Monroe County — chose not to seek re-election.
Buffalo Sen. Mark Grisanti cruised to an easy victory, while races involving Sens. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, and Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, were too close to call and will rely on absentee ballots.
Speaking to reporters following a news conference Wednesday, Cuomo said the four Republicans “understood this possibility” at the time they cast their votes in 2011.
“Their expectations came true, and they voted for it anyway,” Cuomo said. “I think we should pause on that point for a second, because that is really an act of political courage, and I think that should be applauded.”
Cuomo worked to wrangle Republican votes for same-sex marriage shortly after taking office in January 2011. He worked with Saland to craft exemptions in the bill for religious institutions and facilities before it passed the Senate in June by a 33-29 vote.
Saland led fellow Republican Neil Di Carlo by just 42 votes after polls closed on Thursday, while McDonald trailed Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione by 122. Hundreds of absentee ballots remain to be counted in each race before they are certified.
Cuomo said he hopes “it works out for both gentlemen” and said it would be “disappointing” and “sad” if they do not prevail.
“We elect officials to use their best judgment and to be people of character and integrity, and I think this vote — which was a difficult vote — showed character and integrity,” he said. “I hope it works out for both gentlemen.
“They’re in the middle of recounts now,” he said, “and I hope it works out. I hope they get re-elected.”