BUFFALO, N.Y. — More than 250 gay, lesbian, and same-sex marriage activists have officially registered as members of the Erie County, N.Y. Conservative Party — which historically opposes same-sex marriage — in an effort by activists to ensure the re-election of GOP state Sen. Mark Grisanti.
Grisanti (R-Buffalo), who in 2010 campaigned as an opponent of same-sex marriage, is one of four GOP state Senators who voted in favor of the Marriage Equality Act in June.
The vote drew both applause and vilification because it resulted in legalizing same-sex marriage in New York.
It may have also jeopardized Grisanti’s chances at re-election as same-sex marriage opponents, in particular the National Organization For Marriage, (NOM) has vowed to unseat GOP Senators who cast affirmative votes for gay marriage. The NOM has launched a $2 million retaliation campaign against Grisanti and other pro-gay marriage Senators.
According to political analysts, should Grisanti seek probable re-election as a Republican, failure to secure the Conservative Party nomination could doom his chances. Michael Long, the New York State Conservative Party chairman, said he will never support the candidacy of any Republican who voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
The senator’s new supporters intended to ensure he receives the Conservative nomination.
“There’s an old phrase my dad used to use,” said Kitty Lambert-Rudd, a same-sex marriage activist.
“If you can’t beat them, join them. And once you’re in, take them over and throw them out,” she told WGRZ-TV.
Rudd spearheaded the drive to register voters as conservatives and succeeded in convincing 250 Erie County residents, along with at least 50 more voters in the surrounding counties represented by Sen. Grisanti to switch party affiliations and to vote for him.
According to Erie County Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr, “This is one of the most concentrated efforts we’ve seen in a long time.”
The Conservative Party in Erie County has approximately 11,900 registered voters, he added.