From Jon Lentz’s story about renegades within the state Conservative Party, comes this nugget about the electoral fate of Sen. Stephen Saland and the other Senate Republicans who voted “yes” on same-sex marriage.
State Sen. Roy McDonald, one of four Republican senators to vote for same-sex marriage, recently won the backing of Conservatives in Columbia County, which was added to his district through redistricting.
But McDonald’s district also includes Saratoga County, where local Conservatives are backing a primary challenger, Kathy Marchione. His district includes most of Rensselaer County, but the Conservative county chairman, William Fiacco, declined to comment on McDonald’s reelection.
Since McDonald’s district covers multiple counties—and given the split among them—the endorsement decision falls to Long, who has made opposition to same-sex marriage a litmus test.
A decision on endorsing Sen. Stephen Saland will likely come before Long too. The Dutchess County Conservative chair, Patricia Killian, has said that Saland’s future involvement with the party is “null and void.”
But in Putnam County, part of which was added to Saland’s district, the Conservative chairman expects the party to support the incumbent despite the same-sex marriage vote.
“He may have to come in and explain it to the committee, and maybe they’ll accept it. We’ll see,” James Maxwell said of Saland. “How do I feel? I feel that most probably he would get the Conservative endorsement. He had a couple of votes that were a little worrisome, but I just don’t know who the other candidates are.”
As for the other two lawmakers, the Monroe County Conservative Party chair has said there is no chance Sen. Jim Alesi will get the party’s nod, and Mark Grisanti has already lost the Erie County Conservative line.
Dan Weiss, the Niagara County Conservative County chair, came out in support of Grisanti, but redistricting cut out Niagara and put Grisanti entirely in Erie County, leaving the choice to Conservatives there.
The Erie County Conservatives, who have a history of backing Democrats, picked Republican-turned-Democrat Charles Swanick over Grisanti, a move that could impact Republican efforts to keep their narrow Senate majority.
Long said he hopes Senate Republicans maintain control, but other factors matter more.
“I won’t throw out the principles of the party and surrender by supporting the four state senators who voted to destroy traditional marriage,” Long said. “I won’t endorse them. They may still win; I don’t know. I haven’t gone out recruiting candidates, but if candidates rise up against them, and are qualified, we will support the candidates against them.”
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