Did Same-Sex Marriage Cause Scozzafava’s Collapse?

ALBANY—What role did Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava’s strong support of same-sex marriage play in the collapse of her Congressional bid?

“It was pretty significant,” said Jason McGuire, who lobbies against same-sex marriage in New York (and has been on the payroll of Doug Hoffman for several weeks). He noted that conservative groups–including the National Organization for Marriage–supported Hoffman, and froze Scozzafava’s ability to raise money, leading to the eventual collapse of her candidacy.

“I said a few weeks ago this was going to cause some pause among elected officials, and that’s starting to play out. I think, particularly if you’re an upstate Democrat, there are a lot of voters concerned about this. That’s what this has shown.”

Scozzafava was the only candidate who supported same-sex marriage; she has twice voted to legalize it. Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party’s nominee, opposes it and Bill Owens, the Democratic Party’s nominee, is in favor of civil unions. Owens was selected in a final round over Brian McGrath, a Manhattan lawyer with a house in the district, who is openly gay and was frustrated at the selection at the time. He has since endorsed Owens, and I called to ask him what his thoughts were on Scozzafava’s withdrawal.

“We often get tied down in disagreements over a variety of social issues, but what I got into this for was the dairy crisis and the lack of jobs within the district,” he said. “Those are issues where I got common ground with Bill Owens and I think he has very good ideas.”

“I spoke with Ms. Scozzafava a couple of times; I had nice conversations with her. I think very highly of her both as a person and as an Assemblywoman, and I think she’s done a terrific job representing the North Country in the Assembly,” he added. “But I’m very excited about Bill becoming the next congressman.”

Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage legislation in the chamber, said Scozzafava showed “courage” and is fond of noting, as he lobbies, that no elected official has ever lost their seat after voting for same-sex marriage.

“My statistic remains intact,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t believe it was marriage. I don’t believe it was just marriage, or mostly marriage. I believe it was other economic issues where Republicans want purity from their members.”

“It’s easy to claim that you can connect those dots, I would humbly suggest that the information is not yet in as to whether you can connect those dots,” O’Donnell said.

That information will come in tomorrow.