ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he wants two Republican senators who cast deciding votes for gay marriage a year ago to win their so far too-close-to-call primaries, and he just might endorse them over Democrats in November.
The uncommon support for Republican Sens. Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie and Roy McDonald of Saratoga County came just a day before Thursday's hand count of absentee ballots in the Sept. 13 primary that could decide their political futures.
Each are in the battle of their political lives. McDonald faces challenger Kathleen Marchione, the Saratoga County clerk. Saland is in his first Republican contest in his 32 years of public office, against Neil DiCarlo. DiCarlo also has the Conservative Party line.
In each race, the incumbents' previous vote for gay marriage was an issue.
The governor noted that they discussed previously that their votes to legalize same-sex marriage could cost them their careers. "I think it's unfortunate," Cuomo said.
Influential Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long had already promised to oppose any Republicans who voted for Cuomo's measure. In the end, Saland and McDonald said they cast votes of conscience, despite loud opposition.
"That is really an act of political courage and that should be applauded," said Cuomo, head of the state Democratic Party. "I think the vote showed character and integrity ... I hope they get re-elected."
Of the other four Republican senators who cast votes for gay marriage, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo won his primary race handily but James Alesi of Monroe County decided to retire this year in the face of strong opposition over his vote.
Cuomo, a highly popular Democrat who could make a difference in most districts of the Democrat-dominated state, said he hasn't decided if he will endorse McDonald and Saland in November.
"We'll see how that goes," Cuomo said.
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