What a day for politics!
Here’s your rundown of what happened:
– President Barack Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage. He had said his views were “evolving.” The whole country’s views have evolved, as polls show.
– State Senator Jim Alesi is not running for reelection. In what appeared to be a hastily made decision, he went on Capital Tonight and could barely choke out the words. The lawsuit he filed against constituents over his broken leg cost him voter support, but his same-sex marriage affirmation cost him party support. The GOP turned its back on Alesi with incredible speed.
Is it a coincidence Alesi stepped aside the day the president made a momentous announcement supporting same-sex marriage? Perhaps Alesi felt he did his part in advancing the cause. But I suspect being ostracized by the GOP played a far bigger role in his decision. He thought he could overcome the broken leg incident, but without party support he faced a tough road ahead. Alesi repeatedly mentioned party unity in interviews tonight about why he’s retiring.
He told 13WHAM back in November, “I have to run as a Republican because I have to be able to say you can vote for marriage equality as a Republican and you can survive.”
Alesi could not. Make no mistake, support for same-sex marriage is what did him in.
– Now the shuffle begins. Republicans will run Assemblyman Sean Hanna and Democrats will run Monroe County Legislator Ted O’Brien for Alesi’s seat. Republicans Bill Nojay and Avon Mayor Richard Burke want to run for Hanna’s seat. No word on whom the Democrats will put up.
Update: I heard from a Republican close to Alesi who said it was the lawsuit, not same-sex marriage that prompted the decision. I’m not sure I agree, but that’s the feeling within the party.