We suppose an endorsement was the least Gov. Andrew Cuomo owed Republican Sen. Roy McDonald for changing his vote on same-sex marriage last year and finally getting the measure past a Republican-controlled Senate.
It was obvious to all observers — with the possible exception of Kathy Marchione, who vanquished him in the Sept. 13 Republican primary — that McDonald’s switch on the contentious social issue wasn’t just “a contributing factor” in his defeat, as Cuomo so judiciously put it in his endorsement letter Wednesday; it was the sole factor. Heck, if McDonald hadn’t changed his position on gay marriage a year ago, it’s hard to imagine Marchione would have even challenged him in a primary.
But neither Cuomo’s gracious endorsement — which had to have dismayed his own party’s candidate for the 43rd Senate District seat, Robin Andrews — nor a poll released early Thursday by the New York Unity political action committee showing McDonald leading a three-way race, could convince him to soldier on as the Independence Party candidate. And he bowed out about as gracefully as anyone could have expected, promising to support Marchione in the fall campaign. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican to the end, sticking with his party if not its antiquated, odious line on same-sex marriage.
In his concession speech, McDonald noted that his proudest accomplishments were “helping to pass legislation that directly benefitted people” including veterans and “those who cannot protect themselves.” Indeed, he distinguished himself as chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee by passing legislation that came to the aid of families with autistic and developmentally disabled children.
Nonetheless, it is his vote that helped turn the tide on same-sex marriage that McDonald (who sadly didn’t mention it in his concession speech) will long be remembered and, at least by some New Yorkers, greatly appreciated for.