Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Brown Defeats India Walton

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Brown lost the Democratic primary to Walton, a democratic socialist, but defeated him in the general election with a write-in campaign.

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Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Browne, defeated Democratic mayoral candidate India Walton after successfully portraying her as both an inept novice and a dangerous fanatic.
The Associated Press

Buffalo, New York, Mayor byron brown Won a fifth term in office on the strength of a highly unusual writing campaign against the Democratic nominee India WaltonAccording to the official results released on Friday evening.


By the evening of Election Day on November 2, Brown’s victory was clear, as did the number of write-in ballots. in large numbers Vote for Walton. The Browns eventually won by about 20 percentage points.

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But New York state law bars the Erie County Board of Elections from opening write-in ballots until November 15, the last possible arrival date for ballots cast by members of US military service and buffaloes living abroad.

Like most observers, Brown had long believed that the lion’s share of write-in ballots belonged to him, and personally declared victory the night after voting closed.

“The people of the City of Buffalo have fought with heart and soul for the remarkable progress we have made over the past 16 years and against those who are calling for the wrong policies that have reversed our progress,” he said. . told the supporters on election night

Walton accepted the race on Friday evening.

“This election is not the end, but the beginning,” he said in a statement. “The new ideas we expressed, the new energy we inspired, the new volunteers we trained, and the new relationships we built would only grow in the years to come.”

Walton, who would have been the first self-described “democratic socialist” to head a major American city in decades and the first lady of Buffalo, scored an upset victory over Brown at the top democratic primary In June after Brown failed to take him seriously.

But Brown never made the same mistake twice.

Though his efforts to get his name back on the ballot failed, he relented written bid against Walton in the general election, which capitalized on the support of the Democratic city’s large population of centrist and conservative voters, who put aside their differences in Walton’s Common War.

“Experience matters, of course,” said Jacob Nehisel, a political scientist at the University of Buffalo. “That’s what happens when you actually campaign after more or less refuse to do so.”

On election night, Brown accepted his victory as an affirmation of those who oppose displaying big business and law enforcement.

He extended a “special word” of thanks to Buffalo’s police officers and firefighters, declaring that business executives and entrepreneurs are “not the enemy.”

At the same time, in a clear nod to Walton’s candidacy and the progressive criticism leveled against him, Brown said, “Together we will ensure that every Buffalo resident shares in the continued revival of our great city.”

Brown’s victory dashed Progressives’ hopes Those who wanted a chance to prove their worth in an executive office in a less ideologically friendly locality. And Walton’s loss provides more ammunition for Democratic Party founding figures who insist that many left-wing policies and slogans are politically toxic, even in Buffalo, New York’s second largest. Even in party strongholds like the city.

“Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

– Chris Warner, Byron Brown supporter

Particularly among buffaloes who remember the dark days, browns enjoy some loyalty. He presided over the city’s exit from under the thumb of a state-imposed financial control board and led during a development boom that revitalized the city’s downtown and waterfront areas. He also oversaw Buffalo’s first period of net population growth since 1950.

Chris Warner, a salesman in South Buffalo, grew up in the suburbs but in late October said he was ready to buy a home in the city, given, among other things, its low property tax rates. He said he did not vote in the Democratic mayoral primary because he believed Brown had turned it down.

But he planned to vote Brown over Walton in the general election. “With everything here there has been a significant shift and change,” he said, referring to the city’s trajectory during Brown’s nearly 16-year tenure. “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

Many other buffaloes are fed up with Brown, whose mayoralty is George W. Bush’s presidency. Over the years, many of his associates and city agencies have been implicated in corruption scandals. The city’s poverty rate remains very high 30%, And many residents of Buffalo’s predominantly Black East Side feel frustrated by the unequal distribution of the city’s resources and the disruptive effects of gentrification.

India Walton, right, visits a local business with State Sen. Sean Ryan (D).  Progressives were disappointed by some Democrats' decision to stay out of the race after Walton won the primary.
India Walton, right, visits a local business with State Sen. Sean Ryan (D). Progressives were disappointed by some Democrats’ decision to stay out of the race after Walton won the primary.
Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

Walton capitalized on voter exhaustion with Brown to win the Democratic primary, capturing the imagination of the city’s growing group of young, progressive voters, and making significant inroads into Brown’s base on the East Side.

As a single mom enrolled in Medicaid who had her first child at age 14, Walton spoke with the authenticity of her experience improving growth and development function for ordinary people. She planned to scale up projects she served as the founding executive director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, which sought to convert neighborhood vacant lots into affordable housing units.

“We’re not seeing the material benefits of the type of development in a lot of communities, and our strategy for economic growth is to put resources at the neighborhood level,” she said in an October interview at her campaign headquarters.

But removing a current elected official requires a two-pronged strategy: discrediting the incumbent and offering a viable alternative.

take advantage of the inflow of Republican And business community Cash that allowed him to raise twice the amount Walton had raised from mid-July to October, the longtime mayor successfully disqualifying Walton as a substitute with a barrage of attacks that sometimes came down to the facts. It was played fast and loose. Even the State Republican Party of New York money spent Amplifying Brown’s fear-filled message.

From the moment he announced his writing campaign, he portrayed him as both inept and extreme—a “radical socialist” who would drive middle-class families out of town with high taxes, coaxing perpetrators of violent crime. And Fire 100 Police Officer, (Walton insisted that she would seek a $7.5 million reduction in the annual police budget through a reduction in staff vacation and overtime hours, not through firing.)

They also confiscated unattractive parts of Walton’s personal history, such as his 2014 arrest for allegedly threatening a co-worker with physical violence at her nursing job.

When ominous music plays in one of Brown’s final commercials, the narrator says, “She thinks she’s above the law.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown consults with then-Sen.  Hillary Clinton (D.N.Y.) in 2007.  His long tenure as mayor has inspired both deep loyalty and discontent from voters.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown consults with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.N.Y.) in 2007. His long tenure as mayor has inspired both deep loyalty and discontent from voters.
David Dupre / The Associated Press

walton Deny from this that he had ever threatened violence with a co-worker and claimed that he had offered to settle his differences with someone he felt was bullying him.

But the most effective political attacks work because they reinforce a candidate’s existing weaknesses in the eyes of voters.

For Walton, the stories of his personal life Brown also gave rise to a landowner. Walton’s expulsion Based on suspicions of drug sales by members of Walton’s family from an apartment in 2018 that she vehemently denies – confirms voters’ suspicions about whether the first-time candidate was willing to act.

A retired state employee from the Masten district, Mark Brown (no relation to the mayor), stated that he did not attract himself as a candidate for Walton because of his “inability to manage his life at the moment”. He said he voted for Brown.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Walton did not help her case. In early October, the city Walton’s car confiscated More than about $700 in an expired inspection tag and unpaid parking tickets. Walton suggested that the Brown administration had targeted him for political reasons, which is possible but not currently verifiable.

Walton too partially moved back Knowing that Buffalo has limited control over the circumstances in which it can be granted, Buffalo promises to improve how it uses state-level real estate tax breaks.

“She has been responsible for some ‘own goals’ that could have been avoided and that could have come from just being a novice candidate.”

—Jacob Nehisel, University at Buffalo

“She has been responsible for some ‘own goals’ that could have been avoided and came about just being a novice candidate,” Nehisel said.

Progressives furious at some prominent New York Democrats’ refusal to endorse Walton, calling for an ideological double standard when it comes to party…


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