India Walton scored a stunning upset in the Democratic mayoral primary in Buffalo, N.Y., putting her on track to become the city's first female executive and the country's most high-profile socialist mayor in decades.
Walton, a nurse and community activist, bested incumbent Mayor Byron Brown (D) and Le'Candice Durham, a longshot candidate in the race.
The Associated Press called the race for Walton on Wednesday morning.
Walton’s primary victory makes her the favorite to win the general election later this year, given the Democratic tilt of Buffalo. A Republican has not led the city since the Kennedy administration.
She would be the only socialist mayor in a major city. Buffalo would also be the largest city to have a socialist mayor since Milwaukee six decades ago.
Walton said Wednesday morning she was not surprised by her victory, saying her campaign had followed a playbook it believed would guide her to victory.
"We set out about a year ago to do exactly what we did. We knew that this race was going to require help from outside of our local geographic area; we knew that we needed to garner national attention to challenge a 16-year, heavily entrenched incumbent, and the people spoke," she said on CNN.
Walton has advocated for a slew of progressive policies, including instituting rent control, barring police from responding to mental health calls and declaring Buffalo a "sanctuary city."
"My plan is to put our resources into community, into neighborhoods, and govern in a deeply democratic way, that the people who are governed have a say over the decisionmaking process and how resources are deployed in our community," she said Wednesday.
"We are looking forward to doing things differently, and I am so excited that we are ushering a new era of progressive leadership in Buffalo, N.Y.," she added.
Walton's victory over Brown, who had sought a fifth term, came after the incumbent largely shirked debates in the primary race.
The win also marks a major success for New York progressives, who appear to be on their back foot as centrist Eric Adams leads the New York City mayoral primary.