Grisanti Lands Endorsement of Key LGBT Group

Grisanti Lands Endorsement of Key LGBT Group

Grisanti Lands Endorsement of Key LGBT Group
October 2, 2014

Of the four Republican state senators to cross the aisle to vote for legalizing same-sex marriage in 2011, state Sen. Mark Grisanti is the only one still in office.

Now, with Grisanti having lost his Republican primary last month but continuing a long-shot reelection bid on the Independence Party line, his pivotal vote has not been forgotten.

The Empire State Pride Agenda announced today that it is backing Grisanti for reelection, making him the only Republican in the state Senate to win the support of ESPA, a leading LGBT advocacy group in New York.

“I think ESPA recognizes that I was there in 2011 with my vote on marriage equality, and I think they were pretty happy that I won in 2012, and they see that I’m still being attacked in certain circumstances with regard to that same issue,” Grisanti told City & State. “So they wanted to let me know that they appreciate what I did in 2011 and they wanted to give me the endorsement.”

Grisanti is one of only three Republicans among all the candidates for the state Legislature to win the support of the pro-LGBT group. Among the Democratic candidates the organization announced today it is supporting are state Sen. Joseph Addabbo of Queens as well as Senate candidates Jesse Hamilton of Brooklyn and Elaine Altman, who is running against state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer in a district west of Rochester. 

“We're proud to endorse Sen. Grisanti because he has long stood up for issues that are important to the LGBT community,” ESPA Executive Director Nathan Schaefer said. “We certainly have not forgotten his pivotal vote for marriage equality back in 2011, and Sen. Grisanti has long had ongoing conversations with advocates and leaders from the LGBT community, so we know that we can approach him about issues that are important and that he will listen and be a champion for us.”

Grisanti said his campaign has also been in contact with the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. In addition, he noted that some contributors to his campaign this cycle have cited his support for same-sex marriage.

Earlier this year, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg demonstrated his support with a $6,500 campaign contribution, likely due, at least in part, to Grisanti’s same-sex marriage vote

Next month, Grisanti will try to beat out a crowded field that includes Kevin Stocker, who defeated him in the Republican primary, Democrat Marc Panepinto, and Timothy Gallagher, who is running on the Conservative Party line.  

Two years ago, Grisanti eked out a victory with 50.1 percent of the vote in another crowded race against Democrat Michael Amodeo, Charles Swanick, who ran as a Conservative, and Gregory Davis on the Working Families Party line.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who successfully spearheaded the same-sex marriage legislation but has publicly committed to winning a Democratic Senate majority this year, has not said whether he will back Grisanti. Senate Republicans have not ruled out helping Grisanti, but Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos has been careful not to officially come out in support of him. Further complicating matters, Grisanti last week met with state Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference.

Grisanti said he had not spoken with Skelos about getting any assistance from his conference, but asserted that party rules and regulations might prevent him from getting Republican support since Stocker has the party line.

“Naturally, you would hope that members of your own conference, who you helped put into the majority four years ago—when I beat Antoine Thompson, that’s what led to the Republicans actually having those two years of majority and then the next two years of being in the coalition,” Grisanti said. “My fear is I lose this seat, it goes Democratic, the makeup of the Senate changes, and a lot of the economic issues that I brought to my region are going to go by the wayside. People in Western New York, I wish they would wake up and realize that. If they don’t want to vote for me because of some social issues, that’s fine. But on the economic issues, I don’t think anybody can touch my record on those.”

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s former editor-in-chief.