Grisanti Addresses the Criticism

28 Jun

Mark Grisanti is sorry.

If you based your vote in the 2010 race for the 60th State Senate District  on Grisanti’s then-opposition to same-sex marriage, then he apologizes to you.

Grisanti held a late afternoon press conference at the Mahoney office building yesterday, and had two messages to get across; the apology was one of them. The other? He didn’t horse-trade for his vote.

It’s rare that a political figure so blatantly and openly flip-flops on an issue and reneges on a campaign promise. But Grisanti makes it clear that he agonized over this issue during the six months it was on his agenda, and his exhausted tone and defiant words are loaded with something all too rare in our politics: sincerity.

Grisanti said that his offices were deluged with calls from all around the country, but claimed that they split about 50/50, for and against marriage equality.  He downplayed any rifts, indicating that he had spoken to both Conservative Party chair Ralph Lorigo and Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy, and while they’re disappointed, everyone has to move on to the next issue.  The elephant in the room? Although the Conservative line helped Grisanti defeat Antoine Thompson last year, neither the ECGOP nor the Conservatives really lifted a finger to help him get elected last year. Aside from the endorsement, there was no lit, no canvassers, nothing. Grisanti beat an entrenched incumbent himself, and it’s clear he bristles at their threats regarding his marriage equality votes.

Rumors are swirling about the possibility that Grisanti will revert back to the Democratic Party – not a bad move in a Democratic district that the likeable, smart Grisanti won handily with an (R) after his name. Now that Langworthy and Lorigo so publicly have their knives out for Grisanti over this vote, Grisanti notably didn’t rule out a party switch at some point in the future.  He said that this same-sex marriage vote, when paired with his 2008 letter strongly opposing it, has taught him not to ever paint himself into a corner again.

Grisanti’s vote wasn’t influenced by the phone calls, or by internet chatter, joking that he can’t even get on his own Facebook page. Instead, he performed legal research on the matter, finding out that civil unions don’t really work, and that married couples enjoy 1,300+ rights and privileges that unmarried couples don’t. He had to compartmentalize his faith and examine the issue purely on the facts and the law, resulting in a conversion.  However, he would not agree to vote in favor of this law without strong religious exemptions and an inseverability clause, which would render the entire law null and void should a future court change so much as one word.  Grisanti says that the clergy to whom he’s spoken since his vote appreciate that language.

Channel 2 and the News’ Bob McCarthy were intensely interested in the “betrayal” angle, and whether Grisanti had committed “political suicide”. Grisanti smiled and replied that he’s new to politics and didn’t make his decision under pressure. He said it was going to pass anyway, but he could not in good conscience refuse to extend basic civil rights to his taxpaying constituents. He said he doesn’t know – or care – whether he committed political suicide with this vote. He didn’t get into politics to be re-elected, but to do good by his constituents. If they decide he should leave Albany, so be it.

Grisanti seems visibly exhausted by the last few weeks, but he went out of his way to defend his honor against those who call him dishonorable, against those who say he cut a deal for UB 2020 or that the governor made him some sort of guarantee in exchange for his vote. He said UB 2020 was a done deal, and that the Governor made absolutely no promises to him, and that there was no quid pro quo whatsoever for his vote.

I guess in western New York politics, we’ve become so cynical and jaded, expecting our electeds to be dirty, dishonorable deal-makers that when we see true leadership, hard work, and conscientious research and analysis, we really don’t know how to react and assume we’re being played.

I don’t think Grisanti is playing anyone.


17 Responses to “Grisanti Addresses the Criticism”

  1. Insane Liberal June 28, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Sen. Grisanti should just stick with whatever party suits him, and aligns with his values.  He demonstrated he will listen to his constituents, even if it means crossing party lines.

  2. kbecker June 28, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    someone please just let Sen. Grisanti know that the more the GOP threatens,  the more the  LGBT community will support him. and we have money too. we also have a history of activism and fighting for good causes, so we are good to have on your side. 

  3. This Guy June 28, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    What a stupid move by Nick “Boy Blunder” Langworthy, why is a Party chairman attacking an elected official of his own party over a policy issue? It looks like Boy Blunder wasn’t content to cost his party a Congressional seat in a special election, now he is trying to lose a Senate seat when the election is a year and a half away.

    • Christopher Smith June 28, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      Langworthy’s quote in Bob McRepublican’s Buffalo News article today:

      “For Mark to go back on his word that he gave to his constituents and to me — I am deeply disappointed,” Langworthy said.

      “I urged him to stick by his word he had given. This is not tax policy or something. This is important stuff.”

      Firstly, you know what got Grisanti elected? Antoine Thompson being Antoine Thompson. Secondly, the infighting within Grassroots which depressed turnout in some of Antoine’s historically solid districts. Thirdly, Joel Giambra and the Niagara Falls Italians. Fourthly, crossover conservative Democrats who knew Grisanti was a longtime Democrat lurking in Republican clothing.

      Nowhere on that list does Nick Langworthy or Ralph Lorigo show up. Success has a thousand fathers and everyone and their brother wanted to take credit for Grisanti’s victory when it was really his core group of staff and volunteers who made it happen.

      Also, I love that Langworthy identifies the real core principles of the Republican Party in the second part of his statement.

      I’m as cynical and jaded as they come, but after talking to at least 10 people close to him, it would appear he’s just a rational and thoughtful guy who took his time to make a difficult decision. I didn’t think it was the kind of decision to be tortured over, but he eventually made the right choice as I see it. The politics of NY-60 have always been fascinating due to the ethnic breakdown of the district and it’s traditionally the seat from which the Mayor of Buffalo is elected. We’ll see where Mr. Grisanti goes from here, but he has certainly changed the politics of the region and is in position to carry significant weight in the short and long term.

      Enough weight that he can tell a ham and egger like Nick Langworthy to go get his shinebox.

      • Christopher Smith June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am #

        Also, why did Tim Kennedy get a Conservative endorsement from Ralph Lorigo in 2010 after Tim announced his support of marriage equality but Grisanti faces punishment for adopting the same position a year later?

  4. Charles June 28, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Grisanti should soon realize that his policitcal future is not in today’s GOP, which is incalculably divided and too strongly influenced by the self-rightious right, including drones like Carl Paladino and perpetual political sophomore Langworthy. Grisanti seems to have a conscience which is not what today’s perverted GOP promotes. D’s tent has always been large enough to welcome even relatively conservative views in some respects. 

    If Grisanti flopped back to D now, he could turn the Senate upside down once again and help draw an even safer seat in redistricting controlled wholly D’s.  Skelos will be outted (pun intended) as leader, and Grisanti could be Senator for life if that is what he would choose! 

    Not to mention that with the Erie County D’s in a rebuilding phase, a shot in the arm such as this could go a long way toward consolidation among the ranks. Grisanti influence could be considerable. For Collins, the faint foot steps chasing him will grow a bit louder as they draw closer. 

  5. Joey Boots June 28, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I am 44 and I grew up in the closet for most of my life. I served in the military honorably for 6 years and nobody asked and I didn’t tell, All my life I was always ashamed and feared that if anyone found out my secret I would have to kill myself. Four years ago I came out to my family and friends and on the Howard Stern Show, which I am a regular guest on, to millions. I never felt more free and a huge weight was lifted off me and Friday night the New York State Senate validated who I am……thank you Senator Grisanti and all those who voted in favor of Marriage Equality!

  6. Alan Bedenko June 28, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Nick Langworthy: denying equal rights to gays: important. Tax policy: not at all important. 

  7. whitney June 28, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    great question Chris!

    also – that tax policy quote is hilariously sad. 

  8. Brian B June 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    OMG Joey Boots

  9. Hank June 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    NYS is now officially without any moral underpinning. You deserve the continuing decline you are in. What’s next—Polygamy? Legalize incest? After all, if it’s just “2 people who love each other”, so does it make a difference if they’re father and daughter? Brother and sister? 1st Cousins? Mother and son? Don’t EVEN try to tell me THAT is repugnant. Wink and a nod to prostitution, even if you’re the Governor, legalilzed pornography, legal status to homosexuality—–Enough to make someone with only a shred of morality left puke their guts out. You enlightened liberals make my skin crawl.

    • Alan Bedenko June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

      Hank: It’s legal for 1st cousins to marry in New York State. Has been for a long time.

      I don’t know what “legal status to homosexuality” means, pornography is legal, and prostitution is sort of beside the point.

      What this all underscores, though, is that you see relationships as being solely about the act of sex. That’s what you’re talking about in that comment, after all. I think of relationships as being about a lot more than that.

      Homosexual sex apparently is repugnant to you, but your slippery slope argument is the result of little thought, no analysis, and just thinking the whole thing is yucky.

      In other words, you’re like a fifth grader.

  10. Fat Tony June 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    As a Republican I am ashamed of Nick Langworthy and believed he should immediately be dropped as chairman. Nick, you’re an abysmal failure as Chairman. While you were busy pissing away an easy Jack Quinn race and losing the primary for your boy Domagalski, others put Grisanti over the top, taking back the Senate and saving the GOP in New York State. You had nothing to do with it. Now, rather than keep your trap shut and show that the GOP can be a big tent party, you unilaterally impose a litmus test. Shut the fuck up.

    Haven’t you lost enough big races already?

  11. newwayofthinking June 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    There’s always a quid pro quo…but it depends on YOUR definition…

  12. Bbill June 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Enough to make someone with only a shred of morality left puke their guts out.

    That sentence is unintentionally revealing!

    Wingers were pro-discrimination in 1860, 1964 and again in 2011. And they’re on the wrong side of history every single time.

  13. Jaquandor June 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Keep poking Hank! He may go for the Full Santorum! Man on Dog! Man on Dog!

  14. Howard Owens June 30, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    Regardless of how one feels about gay marriage, there’s only one way to look at Grisanti. He’s an honorable man who took an issue seriously, gave it appropriate consideration and did what he believed was the right thing. He didn’t listen to party hacks, vote the party line, worry about re-election, or mindlessly feel obligated to something he said during a campaign. He showed courage and thoughtfulness. We need more of that in NYS politics. If every member of the legislature gave the same consideration to every vote they cast, pretty much all of our problems would be solved in one legislative term.

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