Cuomo Says ‘Extremists' Challenged Pro-Gay Marriage GOP Senators in Primary

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s “elated” that a Republican Senator who voted for gay marriage in New York has won his primary election — but expressed concern for another GOP Senator who has apparently lost his contest because of his vote on the issue.

Republican Senator Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie narrowly won a primary challenge over his pro-gay marriage vote. However, Senator Roy McDonald of the Capital Region has apparently lost his primary race.

Cuomo convinced both senators, along with two others, to vote for the same-sex marriage measure. He said Saland, along Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, who easily beat back a primary challenge, were targeted unsuccessfully by right wing elements within the GOP.

“They were threatened by the extremists in their own party,” said Cuomo. “It shows that they could act out of conscience, they could vote with integrity, and they could win the next election.”

But Senator Roy McDonald, who represents Saratoga Springs and parts of the Capital Region, and who also voted for gay marriage, has apparently lost his primary race.

Reverend Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group that is against same-sex marriage, said he was pleased by his efforts to defeat McDonald.

“I think it was a very successful primary for us,” McGuire said.

McDonald could remain on the ballot in November on the Independence line, he has not yet said what he intends to do next. Cuomo has not ruled out endorsing McDonald if the Senator stays in the race.  

Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for Siena College’s Research Institute, said low turn-out in the races meant the most highly motivated voters were the ones who showed up at the polls. He said the views of those who voted in the primary aren’t necessarily in alignment with the majority of constituents.

“The majority of New Yorkers support-same sex marriage,” said Greenberg, noting 85 percent of GOP voters stayed home.

But McGuire, who opposes same-sex marriage, said Cuomo doesn’t get it.

“The governor doesn’t understand,” said Maguire. “This is the base of the Republican Party. It’s mainstream.”