Anti-gay-marriage reverend says Cuomo would have been ‘the kiss of death’

Rev. McGuire. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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As three Republicans state senators who voted for same-sex marriage battled for their political survival yesterday, Rev. Jason McGuire said he was thinking about one person whose name wasn't on the ballot: Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo.

"I was praying, I was praying, I was praying he was going to come in," said McGuire, who argued that Cuomo's support would have cost those candidates in a Republican primary. "I mean, it would have been the kiss of death. He wisely said he's no assistance to these Republicans, and chose to stay out." 

(A Republican working on one of those contested races used the same phrasing, saying he didn't want Cuomo to embrace his candidate before the primary.)

McGuire is the executive director of the political action committee of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, which has made ousting pro-same-sex marriage Republicans its top priority. The law passed the Republican-controlled state senate last year, when four Republicans joined 28 Democrats to support the bill. One of those four Republicans, Jim Alesi of Rochester, announced he won't seek re-election. The future of the other three is less certain.

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Races for long-time legislators Roy McDonald of Albany and Stephen Saland of Dutchess County will likely be decided by paper ballots, after the regular counting ended with extremly close margins. Freshman Mark Grisanti of Buffalo cruised past his primary opponent, but, McGuire argued, the real test for Grisanti will be in November's general election.

McDonald and Saland both have the Independence Party lines, and could still run for re-election in November, even if they lose their Republican primaries.

Come November, McGuire argued, his supporters will be ready to toss Grisatni, and, if need be, McDonald and Saland too. And even though the November elections are open to Democratic, Independent and unaffiated voters--all groups that generally have highly favorable views of Cuomo--McGuire said the governor still won't be able to protect those endangered Republicans.

"I think he might come into play in some of those races but I don't think it'll be enough to deliver a victory," McGuire said. "He has very high poll numbers, but remember that races are decided by single digits, and if my base represents those single digits, Cuomo does not poll high in my circles."

Spokesmen for Cuomo and the New York State Democratic Party did not return emails seeking comment.

McGuire said the goal was to send a message to the Republican Party that socially conservative voters won't be taken for granted.

"Last year, when senate Republicans told us, you know what, it doesn't matter, we have more to fear from wealthy gay activists than we do from your people, the people in your churches, I don't think they'll be able to say that again," he said.