For voters, marriage issue still packs punch
Based on the results in primaries last week in three states, traditional marriage still remains a strong issue for voters.
In Rhode Island, a group known as the National Organization for Marriage claimed it scored a “massacre” in helping deny renomination to five of six Democratic state senators who voted for same-sex marriage in the Ocean State.
Of the six senators the group targeted, only one—Adam Satchell of West Warwick—emerged triumphant after a spirited primary challenge based on his marriage vote. Rhode Island recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples but still maintains a definition of marriage as a union between man and woman.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire has enacted same-sex marriage and Democratic Gov. John Lynch signed the new definition into law in 2009.
Opponents of same sex marriage have never given up the fight and two years ago they offered HR 1590 to overturn the new definition of marriage. It failed, but two of the Republicans who backed it in the legislature—Peter Bolster and David Welch—both lost their bids for renomination last week.
And in New York, the major primary news is a story that has yet to have its conclusion written: the fate of two Republican state senators who broke party ranks to support Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the senate Democrats to enact same-sex marriage. Republicans control the senate 33 seats to 29 for the Democrats.
In the upstate 43rd District, State Sen. Roy McDonald is trailing his conservative opponent, Saratoga town clerk Kathleen Marchione by 136 votes. As of press time, there were about 1,700 absentee ballots remaining to be counted.
In the Long Island-area 41st District, moderate State Sen. Steve Saland is clinging to a razor-thin lead of 42 votes over Neil DiCarlo, a strong cultural conservative who focused his campaign almost exclusively on Saland’s marriage position.
What makes this race particularly stunning is DiCarlo himself. Where Marchione is a well-known party fixture who holds an important office, DiCarlo holds no office and, two years ago, lost the GOP primary for Congress to Rep. Nan Hayworth.
In addition, DiCarlo does not live in the senate district in which he ran, although one does not have to be a resident in order to seek a legislative seat in the Empire State.
As of press time, 1,000 votes remained to be counted in the DiCarlo-Saland contest. Regardless of the eventual outcome of the Republican primaries, both McDonald and Saland will be on the November ballots as the nominees of the Independence Party, while Marchione and DiCarlo will be on the ballot as the standard-bearers of the Conservative Party.
By far the strangest senate race is in New York’s 29th District (Brooklyn), where Democratic Sen. Carl Kruger resigned in December before pleading guilty to bribery charges. He later received a seven-year sentence.
In a subsequent special election, Kings County Republican Vice Chairman David Storobin won a stunning upset similar to that of fellow Brooklyn GOPer Bob Turner in the 2011 special election for the former seat of Anthony Weiner.
Storobin, however, was a victim of redistricting and is now seeking re-election in the new and heavily Democratic 17th District.
His Democratic opponent is former City Councilman Simcha Felder, who, interestingly, is opposed to same sex marriage and praised Paul Ryan as “a terrific pick for vice president” and someone whose knowledge of fiscal policy “will be an asset to a Romney administration.”