Social Conservatives Shouldn’t Have To Hold Their Noses In Senate Election

Sen. Kathy Marchione (R-Halfmoon) recently announced that she would not seek re-election this fall.

Sen. Marchione was first elected to represent New York’s 43rd Senate District (which includes Columbia County and portions of Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Washington Counties) in 2012. At that time, then-Saratoga County Clerk Marchione challenged Sen. Roy McDonald in a hard-fought Republican primary. Sen. McDonald had long taken liberal positions on life and family issues that were out of step with the Republican electorate, but his 2011 vote in favor of the Marriage Equality Act represented a point of no return. Conservative New Yorkers may recall that Sen. McDonald announced his flip-flop on marriage in a memorable public meltdown.

Despite efforts by the GOP establishment to dissuade Marchione from challenging Sen. McDonald, and despite the flurry of campaign donations received by Sen. McDonald from pro-LGBT sources, Marchione’s professionalism and conservatism attracted strong grassroots support that enabled her to defeat Sen. McDonald and win the general election in November 2012.

The Albany Times Union recently reported that Stillwater Town Board member Lisa Bruno is seeking the Republican nomination in Senate District 43. In the past, Bruno (no relation to longtime State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno) worked as a staffer for Sen. Roy McDonald. Also, Bruno “credited McDonald with having the political courage to buck his party in 2011 and support the legalization of same-sex marriage.” Bruno has already publicly stated her pro-choice position on abortion, although—to her credit—she opposes abortion expansion.

To put it mildly, NYCFPAC is less than enthused about what we have heard from Lisa Bruno to date. We believe that the Republican and Conservative voters in Senate District 43 deserve better than a Republican Senate candidate that sees Roy McDonald as a role model. Six years ago, the conservative grassroots unseated a Republican senator who thumbed his nose at conservative values. Will it be necessary to teach the Republican establishment the same painful lesson in 2018? NYCFPAC hopes not, but let us be clear: Replacing a staunch conservative like Kathy Marchione with a McDonald-esque figure like Lisa Bruno isn’t going to cut it. The social conservatives that make up the Senate Republican base shouldn’t have to hold their noses when they vote this November.