There have been some rumblings at the Capitol that Alesi, first elected in 1996, might not run again after the bad publicity he received earlier this year in a bizarre case in which he sued a constituent after he broke his leg entering their under-construction house. He quickly withdrew the suit after he was knocked by constituents, editorial pages and even fellow Republicans, including Monroe County GOP chairman Bill Reilich, a state assemblyman.
He later apologized and call the whole incident “boneheaded.”
Alesi told Gannett’s Albany Bureau today that he has no plans to leave the Legislature after his term ends at the end of 2012 and will seek re-election.
“I would run on a record of 20 years, not on a record of 20 minutes,” Alesi said. “And I think my record of 20 years is a pretty good record, and I don’t know anybody in life who doesn’t once in a while hit a bump in the road, but of course, yes, I am planning on running.”
There has been some speculation that Republicans could run a primary against Alesi, who represents the eastern part of Monroe County. But Alesi warned against that, saying doing so could fracture Republican support and hand the district to Democrats. Republicans hold a tenuous 32-30 seat majority in the Senate.
“I think that would be very destructive for the chances of the Republicans to keep the majority,” Alesi said of a primary. “And I think that anybody that would run a primary or anybody that would instigate a primary would probably cause the Democrats to take over the majority again. I think it would be a very dangerous move.”
Democrats have put money into trying to beat Alesi in recent elections, pumping campaign cash into businessman David Nachbar’s candidacy in 2008 and Mary Wilmot’s run in 2010. But Alesi, in a district with an increasing Democratic enrollment, has prevailed with not much difficulty.
He has been aided by the support of the Conservative Party’s nomination, which last year was the difference in his election. That’s an important issue because Alesi is one of the lawmakers being heavily lobbied by gay-rights groups to support the legalization of same-sex marriage. If he does, he would lose the Conservative Party nod.
Alesi, in a memorable moment on the Senate floor in 2009, held his head in his hands and voted no against same-sex marriage — the first Republican to vote. Subsequently, all GOP senators followed suit, leading to the bill’s failure by eight votes.
This year, Alesi said he is undeclared on where he stands.
Updated: The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee offered this response.
“Unlike the frivolous lawsuit Jim Alesi brought against local taxpayers, it looks like he finally made a decision before a deadline passed. Jim Alesi doubled state spending, doubled debt, and raised taxes hundreds of times. After nearly two decades of broken promises, local taxpayers can’t afford any more of Jim Alesi falling down on the job.”