ALBANY, N.Y. — New York State Sen. Roy McDonald, one of four GOP lawmakers who voted to legalize same-sex marriage last year, was narrowly defeated in his primary race, and said he won’t campaign as an Independent in the general election, and will instead back his former primary opponent.
McDonald’s announcement comes just one day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, offered to endorse McDonald in a third-party bid for re-election, and a number of gay rights groups pledged to provide financial support for such a campaign.
Cuomo acknowledged that a third party candidacy for McDonald “would have been an uphill battle,” but he said McDonald would have had support.
McDonald said he’s quitting for the unity of the party, and will now back his previous opponent, Saratoga City Clerk Kathy Marchione.
Observers speculated that had McDonald actively campaigned for re-election, he could have split the vote with Marchione, and caused the Democratic challenger in the race to win. That could have made a significant difference in the state Senate, where the GOP holds a razor-thin majority.
McDonald said he believes in keeping the Senate in Republican hands.
The anti-gay marriage group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said the end to McDonald’s Senate career means “values voters” have followed through with their warnings against Republican Senators who voted for same-sex marriage last year.
“Rogue Republicans are being held accountable,” said Reverend Jason McGuire.
Three other Republican Senators voted for same-sex marriage and ensured passage of the law in June 2011.
Of them, Sen. James Alesi of Rochester, N.Y., decided not to seek reelection for other reasons. Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo easily beat back his primary challenger, while Sen. Stephen Saland of the Hudson Valley narrowly defeated his primary challenger.
Cuomo said he does not think the outcome of the primary races should discourage politicians in other states from supporting marriage equality legislation if they believe it’s the right thing to do.