GOP challenger apparently topples gay marriage pol

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A Republican state senator who voted to legalize gay marriage in New York and shot back at conservative critics that they could "take this job and shove it" has apparently lost his primary.

With all absentee votes counted from the Sept. 13 primary and barring a total recount order, Republican Kathleen Marchione had a 113-vote edge over Sen. Roy McDonald with just 50 votes that still could be contested, said Saratoga County elections official John Marcellus.

"The primary is over, and we go forward unified, as far as I'm concerned," Marchione said at her victory celebration.

A judge will make the vote official in the 43rd Senate District.

In the face of opposition to his vote last year, McDonald, a Vietnam combat veteran, publicly said that if critics wanted to fire him for his difficult vote of conscience, "they can take this job and shove it."

Marchione's campaign as well as the campaigns against the other Republican senators centered on the vote to greatly expand gay marriage in the nation. In 2007, she had led a successful, statewide revolt of county clerks against then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Two of the three other Republican senators who voted across party lines for gay marriage amid loud opposition in their conservative base have won. The fourth retired in the face of strong opposition over his vote.

On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday blamed Republican "extremists" for punishing the Republican senators who voted for his initiative to legalize gay marriage in New York in June 2011.

On Monday, Sen. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie was declared the winner in his primary. Saland had cast the critical 32nd vote in the Senate that approved Cuomo's measure. A judge certified his win by 107 votes out of about 9,800 cast.

"I'm elated about Sen. Saland's victory," Cuomo said Tuesday, calling him a man of integrity who voted his conscience. "I know what it's like, and I respect what Sen. Saland did."

Saland joins Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo who won his Republican primary on primary night after casting one of the GOP votes for gay marriage.

Saland and Grisanti "were threatened by the extremists in their own party and it shows they could act out of conscience, they could vote with integrity and they could win the next election," the Democratic governor said.

"Obviously Sen. McDonald is in a different situation," Cuomo said.

"You know it can be very hard to vote your conscience when you know it's not popular in your district," Cuomo said. He added that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has done the same.

"I watched my father for many years oppose the death penalty as a matter of conscience even though it was very, very difficult politically because it was an unpopular position," Cuomo said.

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AP Writer Jim Fitzgerald contributed to this report from White Plains, N.Y.

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