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James Alesi, Gay Marriage Supporting Republican Senator, Not Running For Re-Election

State Senator James Alesi, one of four Republicans to cross the aisle and vote for the Marriage Equality Act last summer, announced last night that he's not running for re-election.

He was for same-sex marriage equality even before President Barack Obama, and we got to interview him in Albany just minutes after the historic vote last June. Alesi's bold, historic vote earned him a great deal of financial support, but it also drew the wraith of the state Conservative Party.

Now, he's announced that rather than face getting Lugar-ed in a primary, he'll retire.

The decision is not wholly about his stance on supporting same-sex marriage. It's favored in this state, and though he'd have had a race on his hands in his district (especially without the Conservative Party line on the ballot), he had another scandal to duck.

Several years ago, in a "you couldn't make this shit up" kind of lawsuit, Alesi sued two constituents, after he fell off a ladder in their home in which he'd broken into and was trespassing. He's dropped the bogus lawsuit -- the homeowners could have pressed criminal trespassing charges against him, but didn't out of pity -- but the political damage was done.

Writes the Democrat and Chronicle:

Asked if the lawsuit was a key factor in his decision, Alesi said, "You could point to that. There's absolutely no way of making that go away. I've apologized, and every time it comes up, I reiterate my apology."

The night he spoke to the Voice, Alesi sounded like a man happy to retire, his own personal sense of legacy secure with his role in state history:

I am 63 years old, and I have no children, so I won't have any grandchildren. But I do have family. I have nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and nephews. I don't know what they'll think. But I do know that as a result of the collective efforts here, they'll grow up in a world that has a broader vision of human freedom.

@steven_thrasher | sthrasher@villagevoice.com


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