Of the three Republican senators who voted yes on same-sex marriage on this year’s ballot, only one, Erie County Sen. Mark Grisanti, remained safe as results rolled in Thursday night.
Sen. Steve Saland, generally considered to be in no danger in his race against Neil Di Carlo, led his opponent by only 43 votes at the end of the night, with more than a thousand absentee ballots left to be counted. Sen. Roy McDonald trailed his challenger, Kathy Marchione, by about 100 votes, with more than a thousand absentee votes left to be counted.
Both senators were once thought to be insulated from defeat by hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from individuals and organizations supportive of their “yes” votes.
At McDonald’s campaign headquarters, the senator entered the room after 10 p.m. to cheers from about 50 supporters who had gathered to watch polling reults posted on a projector screen.
“Now we have a nailbiter,” McDonald said. “I sure hope I win. I think I will. We’re going to be thinking about this for a long time to come. Stay tuned, this race is going into extra innings.”
Ann Millard, a campaign volunteer with a yellow flower tucked behind her ear and a recent graduate of Russell Sage College, said she helped out on the campaign because of McDonald’s same-sex marriage vote.
“If I had nails right now I’d be biting them,” she said.
She said she didn’t know what it would mean for same sex marriage if McDonald lost.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It sets a bad example.”
McDonald circled the ballroom at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs, hugging and shaking the hands of his supporters.
“I don’t think I’ll stay up that late,” he said, noting that he believed the race would end with the counting of more than a thousand absentee ballots.
I asked him if he regretted his vote in favor of marriage, now that his career in the Legislature hung in the balance.
“Well, you do the best you can,” he said, with his hands tucked in the pockets of his suit. “I don’t regret anything I’ve done.”
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