(Photo: Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered his support to State Senator Roy McDonald after he was defeated on Sept. 12 in the GOP primary as a result of his support of the state's law legalizing same-sex marriage. However, Cuomo's support won't be needed because McDonald decided late Thursday to drop plans for a third-party run.
In June 2011 – after months of contentious negotiations and political wrangling – New York legalized same-sex marriage with the help of a handful of GOP Senators, including McDonald.
McDonald, who was elected in 2008 and served only one term, lost in the Republican primary to Kathleen Marchione. The vote was so close that the results were not decided until 13 days later on Sept. 26.
But after McDonald's defeat, Cuomo and others tried to resurrect his chances of reelection by offering to support him as an independent or third-party candidate.
McDonald, one of four GOP legislators to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, officially declined the invitation on Thursday. Two others, Sens. Mark Grisanti (Buffalo) and Stephen Saland (Poughkeepsie), who also voted in favor of gay marriage, survived their primary races.
"McDonald's race would have been really uphill as an independent, and that's why I think it was different from the others," said Cuomo in a statement to reporters. "Senator Saland won by a slim margin and there's no doubt the senator paid a price, but it wasn't politically fatal for Senator Saland. Senator Grisanti actually won; Senator McDonald lost, and that's the difference."
Lynn Faria, who heads up the Empire State Pride Agenda, a pro-homosexual organization, released a statement in support of McDonald that read in part:
"Although recent polling suggested that he could have won the general election, Senator McDonald is a man of principle who made the humble decision to step aside in the interest of his party. We respect that decision. However, it's unfortunate that such a small, extreme faction of the electorate was able to steer the future of the district. New York State has lost a valuable public servant as a result."
However, McDonald's decision not to run as an independent was based in part on his desire to support Republican candidates – including Marchione – in the general election to maintain a GOP majority in the State Senate.
"After discussing the issue with family, friends, campaign staff and trusted advisors, I've decided that I will not actively campaign in the General Election on the Independence Party line," said McDonald in a written statement released Thursday. "Moving forward, I will be supporting all Republican candidates – including Kathy Marchione – in the General Election, because I believe maintaining the Republican Majority in the New York State Senate will continue to positively change state government. It is important to recognize the need for checks and balances in our democracy, which can only be assured by a multi-party system."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, (Rockville Centre), had kept a low profile during the primary but after the race, described McDonald's decision as the right one for the party.
"The last thing he or anyone wanted to do was to turn this upstate seat over to the New York City-dominated Senate Democrats, who raised taxes by $14 billion and shifted resources out of the Capital District when they were in the majority," Skelos said in a statement. "Roy McDonald has also been a valuable part of the work we've done over the last two years to control spending and taxes, help the private sector create new jobs and bring New York back. I consider him a friend and wish him well in the future."
Marchione will face Democrat Robin Andrews in November for the 43rd District seat. Cuomo has not yet said if he will endorse Andrews.