ALBANY – A controversial mailing by the state’s teachers union that uses an image of a battered woman in a campaign to defeat Republican State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti was criticized as “disgusting” Tuesday evening by Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The mailing by New York State United Teachers, which the union used to target at least two other Senate Republican candidates in the Hudson Valley, has been sharply criticized as over the top by both Democrats and Republicans.
Cuomo, who has not offered an endorsement in the Grisanti contest against two opponents, lashed out at NYSUT in an interview with The Buffalo News. “I think that mailer is outrageous. I’ve seen a lot of cheap campaign stunts, but this is one of the more disgusting ones I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Not only is it unfair to Grisanti and deceptive about Grisanti, but it also exploits the women’s equality movement.”
Grisanti is running on the Independence Party line after losing the Republican primary to lawyer Kevin T. Stocker. Lawyer Marc C. Panepinto, who has been endorsed by NYSUT, is on the Democratic line.
Unlike other local and statewide Democrats, Cuomo has not endorsed Panepinto, in part, because Grisanti provided one of only four Republican votes for his effort to legalize gay marriage in New York.
The back of the mailing, with another photo of the woman, says Grisanti has blocked Cuomo’s effort to get approval for his Women’s Equality Act, a 10-point package that includes pay-equity provisions and stronger protections for victims of domestic abuse.
But as Cuomo went out of his way to point out, Grisanti has supported nine of the 10 points, but only opposes the 10th point: Cuomo’s measure to expand abortion protections in the state.
NYSUT officials did not specifically respond to Cuomo’s criticism. Union spokesman Carl Korn said that while the mailing may be disturbing to some, “what’s even more disturbing is the senator’s poor record on women’s issues.”