State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy will not seek the Conservative nomination for re-election this year, a direct result of his vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Buffalo Democrat said Thursday that he opted not to put Erie County Conservatives in the "touchy situation" of considering his candidacy in view of their deep opposition to the new law he helped pass last year.
"I'm optimistic I would have earned their support," Kennedy said of local Conservatives, "but the state party has drawn a line in the sand on certain issues."
Indeed, state Conservative Chairman Michael R. Long has made it clear that no candidate supporting same-sex marriage or late-term abortions will receive the party nod in contests requiring approval of the state party.
But Kennedy's district does not require state party approval because it does not cross county lines and is located entirely within Erie County, and Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo has not maintained as rigid a stand on those issues as his statewide counterpart.
Nevertheless, Kennedy said, he decided not to press the point.
"I recognize it would have been the local party that determines my endorsement," he said, "but I wanted to make sure the folks here would not have to make that decision amid the contentious statewide position."
Kennedy said he still considers himself a "conservative Democrat" even while not seeking the Conservative Party line.
Lorigo said he did not know whether Kennedy would have received the line had he asked. He also acknowledged the major controversy that erupted over his party's failure to renominate incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo in an adjoining district.
But Lorigo said the party more heavily considered Grisanti's "broken promise" to vote against same-sex marriage after his interview with party leaders in 2010 than the actual vote. He said Kennedy was never asked his position in 2010.
"That question should have been asked," Lorigo said Thursday. "We certainly are more cognizant of it now than then."
Lorigo added that Kennedy continues to reflect Conservative views on key fiscal issues, as well as its stand in favor of gun rights and against abortion. He also said that no other interested candidates have approached the party for its support.
Kennedy, meanwhile, starts his re-election effort with support from the Democratic, Independence and Working Families parties.