Tag Archives: New York Public Interest Research Group

The Grisanti Situation

29 Jun

The last several days have been a whirlwind for NY State Senator Mark Grisanti, but that’s what happens when you make history. After casting a crucial vote in favor of marriage equality in New York State, the Senator has found himself featured on The Daily Show, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and in media outlets across the country. He’s held press conferences here in Buffalo and done numerous interviews. He’s kind of a big deal.

With that sudden notoriety also came some serious questions from local officials in the Republican and Conservative Parties who were not happy with Sen. Grisanti’s decision to vote in favor of marriage equality. There have been local stories all week about how disappointed the members of those parties are with Grisanti’s actions.

When contacted for comment, Erie County Republican Chariman Nick Langworthy said, “As I’ve said a few times, I’m disappointed with Mark’s choice to vote in favor of gay marriage. He went back on his word to support the institution of marriage being between one man and one woman.”

But what are the political consequences that Grisanti now faces after “disappointing” his party chairman and senior members of the party? Yesterday, we heard a rumor from three different sources that Langworthy had arranged a meeting of at least some of the members of the Erie County Republican Executive Committee to determine what the roadmap would be for dealing with Grisanti. The sources reported that Langworthy and other Republican leaders were considering a move to sever political ties with the Senator. When asked, Langworthy said that meeting was not happening and added, “I’m not out rattling cages about this, but I think Senator Grisanti should spend some time with his constituents.”

The rumor of a secret Republican cabal to kick Grisanti out of the party, as it were, seems unlikely. After all, the decision to force Grisanti into the arms of an eager Democratic Party is not Langworthy’s alone to make. A decision like that has tremendous statewide consequences that would affect redistricting and the overall balance of power in the state senate. Any move on Grisanti would need approval from the state party chairman and other members of the party apparatus. Langworthy may be a lot of things, but a move like that would be politically tone deaf.

With that said, Democratic party regulars are chasing Grisanti like hormonal tweens chasing Justin Bieber at the airport. Pulling Grisanti back into the Democrat party from whence he came would be a massive coup. When asked for comment, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Len Lenihan said, “There are always informal discussions locally and in Albany over issues like this, but nothing formal or direct has happened. I have not spoken with Senator Grisanti about this.” Lenihan continued, “Senator Grisanti was a lifelong Democrat until this past election and he is now a hero in this party after voting his conscience.”

Senator Grisanti’s Chief of Staff, Doug Curella said, ” Right now we are dealing with real issues like creating jobs, lowering taxes and bringing people back to the Western New York area. We have never really thought about running on the Democratic line in 2012, it’s a year in a half away, we are interested in the policy, not the politics of government.”

The stakes are high for a first term Senator who earned praise not only for his marriage equality vote but for his entire body of work during his first year. An independent report done by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) shows Grisanti was one of the state’s busiest and most effective lawmakers, according to a recently released study of legislation that passed this session in both the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly.

Grisanti sponsored a total of 103 bills and had 23 pass both houses ranking him 8th out of the 212 combined members who represent the state in the Senate and Assembly. These 23 bills also placed him 7th in terms of numbers of bills passed by senators. Grisanti passed the most bills of any first term senator or Assembly member. He also is the only first-year legislator among the list of 10 who passed at least 20 bills, with the other nine who made the list having served in office for at least five terms.

It seems to me that the battle for Senator Grisanti is just getting started. “The situation is ripe for discussion and Senator Grisanti essentially holds the majority for the Republicans in the State Senate.” said Lenihan.

To be continued…