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

Alesi last summer: "It's not our job to be moral, it's our job to be functional as a legislature."
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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