Mark Grisanti

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Mark Grisanti
Member of the New York Senate
from the 60th district
In office
January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2014
Preceded by Antoine Thompson
Succeeded by Marc Panepinto
Personal details
Born Mark John Grisanti
(1964-10-21) October 21, 1964 (age 53)
Buffalo, New York, United States
Political party Democratic (before 2011)
Republican (2011-present)[1][2]
Spouse(s) Maria Grisanti
Children One daughter, one step son, one step daughter
Residence Buffalo, New York, United States
Alma mater Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Profession Lawyer, politician

Mark John Grisanti (born October 21, 1964) is an American lawyer and politician. He was appointed to the New York State Court of Claims in May 2015 and is currently serving as an Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice.[3]

On January 3, 2011, he assumed office as the Republican[1][2] New York State Senator representing New York's 60th Senate District – which encompasses the areas of Buffalo, Tonawanda, Niagara Falls and Grand Island, New York. Grisanti lost renomination in a Republican primary in September 2014[4] and was defeated in the general election.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Grisanti was born and raised in Buffalo, the youngest of six brothers and sisters. He graduated from Sweet Home High School, located in Amherst, New York, and attended Canisius College, located in Buffalo, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After finishing his undergraduate degree he received his Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, located in Lansing, Michigan.



After graduating law school, Grisanti worked at his father’s law firm that his grandfather had founded in 1921. As a third-generation attorney, he has worked at his family’s practice for over eighteen years. Grisanti first became interested in running for State Senate when practicing law on the lower-west side of Buffalo.[6]

State Senate politician[edit]

2008 Democratic primary defeat[edit]

Grisanti was defeated in the 2008 Democratic primary for the 60th Senate District, losing heavily to Antoine Thompson, 72 to 28 percent;[7][8] Thompson went on to win the senate seat in the state's 2008 general election.[9]

2010 general-election victory as Republican[edit]

Grisanti stood for election to the State Senate seat again in the 2010 state senate elections. His 525-vote victory over incumbent Senator Antoine Thompson, which was initially contested, was considered an upset.[10][11] Grisanti's victory helped the GOP obtain regain the Senate majority by a slender 32-30 margin.[12][13]

The 60th Senate District is the most Democratic-leaning of the all Republican-held Senate seats, with 104,000 registered Democrats and 22,000 registered Republicans.[10] Although Grisanti was a registered Democrat during the race, he received a waiver to run on the Republican line; after his victory, he agreed to caucus with Senate Republicans and switched his party registration to Republican.[1]

State Senator[edit]

Grisanti has received significant support and visibility from Senate Republicans, who engaged in a "Protect Grisanti" effort to increase his electability in the lead-up to the state's 2012 elections.[10]

On February 11, 2012, Grisanti and his wife were reportedly attacked at a fundraising gala held at the Seneca Niagara Casino by a casino shareholder who accused the senator of hating the Seneca nation, which owns the casino.[14] According to the New York Times, Sen. Grisanti's account of the events of February 11 was challenged by witnesses who claimed that the Senator was the aggressor.[15] While Sen. Grisanti expressed an intention to press charges following the incident, no charges were ever filed, and the matter was closed.[16]

Same-sex marriage

During his 2010 Senate campaign, Grisanti declared himself to be "unalterably opposed" to same-sex marriage[17][18] and sought support from the National Organization for Marriage.[19] On May 17, 2011, it was reported that Grisanti had publicly stated that he would vote "no" on same-sex marriage.[20] On June 17, 2011, it was reported that he had changed his position on same-sex marriage to "undecided".[21] On June 24, 2011, Grisanti voted in favor of the Marriage Equality Act, which allows gender-neutral marriages for both same- and opposite-sex couples in New York, saying that he had researched the issue and that "a man can be wiser today than yesterday, but there can be no respect for that man if he has failed to do his duty."

Sen. Grisanti's marriage vote cost him the Conservative Party line, which provided his margin of victory in 2010.[22] Both the Conservative Party and the National Organization for Marriage endorsed Democrat Charles Swanick to run against Sen. Grisanti in 2012.[23] Despite this, Sen. Grisanti was re-elected in 2012.

In 2013, Grisanti was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage in the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[24]

2012 Elections[edit]

Grisanti faced a challenge in the Republican Primary for the 60th district from attorney Kevin Stocker of Kenmore, NY. Grisanti won the primary with a 60 percent to 40 percent margin after a campaign in which "much of the bitterest politicking had revolved around Grisanti's controversial 2011 vote to support legalizing same-sex marriage in the state."[25] "We took the high road, because we don't care about the smut, we care about what is important for the residents of Western New York," Grisanti said.[25][26] Grisanti's primary campaign was more successful than the primary campaigns of the other two Senate Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage and ran for re-election;[27] Sen. Stephen Saland barely defeated his primary challenger,[28] while Sen. Roy McDonald was defeated by Kathy Marchione.[29]

Grisanti won re-election in the 2012 general election with 50% of the vote. The Democratic candidate, Michael L. Amodeo, came in second with 36% of the vote, while Conservative Party candidate Charles M. Swanick received 12% of the vote.


In January 2013, Sen. Grisanti voted in favor of the NY SAFE Act, a controversial gun control measure.[30][31]

Sen. Grisanti was defeated by Kevin Stocker in a Republican primary in September 2014.[32] While Sen. Grisanti stayed in the 2014 general election race on a third-party line, he finished in third place in a hotly contested election; the winner, Democrat Marc Panepinto, received only 3,681 votes more than Grisanti did.[33]


Grisanti became a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court for the eighth district, in Erie County.[34] In New York State, Justices of the Supreme Court preside over the principal trial-level courts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Fairbanks, Phil (November 11, 2010). "Grisanti's Loyalties Lean Toward Senate GOP – Democrat Could Hold Key to Albany Power". The Buffalo News. Retrieved June 25, 2011. Grisanti confirmed late Tuesday his intention to caucus with Republicans if he is declared the winner of the contested race in the 60th District[...]. The registered Democrat also announced his intention to switch his party enrollment to Republican. 
  2. ^ a b New York State Board of Elections (January 27, 2011). "NYS Board of Elections Senate Election Returns November 2, 2010" (PDF). p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF – 296 KB; requires Acrobat Reader) on August 23, 2012. Retrieved June 25, 2011. Mark J. Grisanti REP 
  3. ^ "Mark Grisanti appointed to New York Court of Claims". WIVB-TV. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Staff (n.d.). "Official Biography of Mark J. Grisanti". Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ Wozniak, Mark; Riedel, Howard (September 10, 2008). "Kryzan Wins Congressional Primary, Hoyt Holds Off Kavanaugh". WBFO. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011. In the 60th district Democratic primary, incumbent Antoine Thompson defeated challenger Mark Grisanti 72 to 28 percent. 
  8. ^ Scheer, Mark (September 7, 2008). "Election: Grisanti, Thompson Vie for Democratic Line Tuesday". Niagara Gazette. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011. Tuesday’s Democratic primary between Grisanti and Thompson will likely be a winner-take-all affair.[...]There are no candidates on the Republican, Conservative or Independence lines. 
  9. ^ "Election Results 2008". New York Times archives. Archived from the original on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c Precious, Tom (June 13, 2011). "Style, Skill Give 'Marginal' Grisanti an Edge – A study in Contrasts, Freshman Senator Earns Respect from Colleagues on Both Sides of Aisle". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  11. ^ Gee, Denise Jewell (February 20, 2011). "The Mysterious $400,000 Grant – Thompson's Office Had Funds Redirected, and Documents Shed Light on Transaction". The Buffalo News. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  12. ^ Quint, Michael (2010-12-04). "New York Republicans Regain State Senate Majority as Judge Certifies Race". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  13. ^ [1] Archived February 8, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "State senator, wife attacked at western NY casino". Fox News. February 11, 2012. 
  15. ^ Eligon, John (February 13, 2012). "Grisanti's Account of Fracas at Seneca Casino Is Met With Objections". The New York Times. 
  16. ^ [2]
  17. ^ Reader, Stephen. "Gay Marriage in NYS: Who are the Republican Targets?". WNYC. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  18. ^ "The Dangerous Duplicity of Sandy Beach | TEANewYork". 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  19. ^ "NY state senator gets heat for 'taking the Catholic out' of his marriage vote :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)". Catholic News Agency. 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  20. ^ Benjamin, Liz (May 17, 2011). "Grisanti Would Vote 'No' On Gay Marriage". Capital Tonight (via Your News Now). Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  21. ^ Boose, Josh (June 17, 2011). "Grisanti Now 'Undecided' on Gay Marriage Bill". WGRZ. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  22. ^ [3] Archived February 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ "National Organization For Marriage Backing Swanick". 2012-02-27. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b "Deadlocked races for two GOPers who backed gay marriage in New York". Politico.Com. 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  26. ^ Buffalo News
  27. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (September 13, 2012). "Primary Results Close for 2 G.O.P. Legislators Who Voted for Same-Sex Marriage". The New York Times. 
  28. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (November 7, 2012). "Republicans Try to Keep Control of New York State Senate". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (September 27, 2012). "Roy J. McDonald, Republican Who Voted for Gay Marriage, Won't Pursue Third-Party Bid". The New York Times. 
  30. ^ [4]
  31. ^ [5]
  32. ^
  33. ^ [6]
  34. ^ "8th Judicial District". Unified Court System. The State of New York. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 

External links[edit]

New York State Senate
Preceded by
Antoine Thompson
New York State Senate
60th District

Succeeded by
Marc Panepinto
Preceded by
Antoine Thompson
Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation
Succeeded by