Cuomo backs third party run for McDonald
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to cross the aisle this fall and support Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, if the embattled senator decides to mount a third-party candidacy.
On Monday, McDonald lost any chance at being his party's nominee in the race for the 43rd Senate District and his campaign said they would evaluate all their options. McDonald told the Gazette after primary night that he would run as a candidate of the Independence Party, which put its support behind him earlier this summer.
The winning Republican nominee is Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione.
In a letter today, Cuomo said he is sorry for McDonald's primary loss and acknowledged that it was probably due to his support for marriage equality last summer.
"You stood up for your principles, for equality and for a population long victimized," Cuomo wrote of McDonald's vote. "It is now evident that you paid a political price for your convictions. You should not be left to stand alone now."
The entire text of the letter is available below.
The governor goes on to say that whatever McDonald wants to do is up to him and he would respect any decision. "But if you decide to go forward with your campaign you will have my full endorsement," Cuomo wrote.
UPDATED 5:16 p.m. McDonald campaign spokesman had "no comment" on the letter.
Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said it is premature to assess what Cuomo's support means until McDonald announces his intentions. As to whether today's announcement was a surprise, Greenberg noted, "The governor had said that he would support those who supported his position on same sex marriage."
The vote of support comes the same week as the Empire State Pride Agenda doubling down on its support for McDonald, despite the fact Democratic candidate Robin Andrews is openly gay. A spokeswoman for ESPA confirmed earlier today that McDonald will receive grassroots support, with bodies and money, if he is active in the general election.
It's not clear whether this is a ploy to help the Democratic candidate by propping up a third-party candidate that would siphon votes from Marchione.
Republicans have begun to rally around Marchione, who said she expects her party to proceed unified. Saratoga County Republican Committee Chairman Jasper Nolan, an ardent supporter of McDonald, has already entered the Marchione fold.
The Marchione campaign had no comment early Wednesday evening in response to the endorsement.
Follow @GazettePolitics on Twitter.