State Sens. Mark J. Grisanti, James S. Alesi, Stephen M. Saland and Roy J. McDonald have been targeted by conservative groups like the National Organization for Marriage for their decisive votes in favor of legalizing gay marriage when the legislature voted on it in June.
The fundraiser is hosted by Republican donors who support gay marriage -- many of whom were also instrumental in getting the law passed -- including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and gay rights activist Tim Gill, and big GOP donors like hedge fund managers Paul E. Singer and Daniel S. Loeb. The maximum donation allowed at the event is $16,800.
"Our support not only assists each of these leaders but will send a signal to other legislators across the nation that if they stand with freedom and civil liberties, they will not be abandoned by those who care deeply about gay rights and marriage equality," Singer wrote to other donors recently, Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times reports.
"The mayor made it very clear early on that he would be a vocal supporter of those senators who stood up and did the right thing in light of a tough political climate," said Bloomberg spokesman Mark Botnick.
To put the numbers in perspective: if the fundraiser does meet expectations, around $900k is expected to be spread among the four Senators. In the first six months of the year, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, state Senators averaged a little over $100k in fundraising totals.
And they will likely need it. NOM recently said it is spending $40,000 for another set of billboards targeting the four Republicans, which is part of a larger $2 million "Let The People Vote" campaign that is pushing for a ballot referendum to overturn the law. The billboards say "You're Next," in reference to David Weprin, a Democrat who NOM takes credit for defeating in NY-09.
"Just like David Weprin discovered earlier this month when he faced voters after redefining marriage, Mark Grisanti, Stephen Saland, James Alesi, Roy McDonald and Shirley Huntley will soon discover that the people of New York will not sit idly by while the institution of marriage is redefined without voters having any say in the matter," Brian Brown, president of NOM, said in a statement. "NOM and our Let The People Vote" coalition will not rest until these legislators are turned out of office and the people of New York are allowed to vote on the definition of marriage."
And Mike Long, who chairs the state's powerful Conservative Party, said he wouldn't back any Republican who supported the bill. "The four candidates are evidently trying to raise as much money to protect themselves from primaries, which is clear evidence that shows they know what they did was not a popular thing," he said, according to the Times.