Campaign

Buffalo mayor says reelection a rebuke of socialism, police defunding

India Walton and Byron Brown
Associated Press - Joshua Bessex

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) touted his expected victory as a rebuke of “socialism” and efforts to divert funding away from law enforcement. 

Brown was originally upset in a primary by Democratic Socialist India Walton, but appeared on track to win reelection as a write-in candidate this week. 

“I think it clearly is a rebuke of defund the police, it is a rebuke of socialism, and I think there were those from outside the city of Buffalo that underestimated the Buffalo community. They tried to come in and tell us who to vote for, and the people fought back, and we won,” he said Thursday morning on CNN.

The statement from Brown, a four-term incumbent, comes as results show Walton trailing write-in candidates by a 41-59 margin. Brown is the only major candidate waging a write-in campaign, and the race has not been formally called yet as the ballots are tallied by hand to certify which names are written.

Walton hinted at her expected loss Wednesday, saying in a statement that “while we anticipate that the margins will narrow, it seems unlikely that we will end up with enough votes to inaugurate a Walton administration in January.”

She later denied that the statement amounted to a concession.

The race between Walton and Brown, who swiftly began waging a fierce write-in campaign after falling short in the primary, marked one of the highest-profile flash points between moderates and progressives within the Democratic Party.

While Brown cast himself as a moderate steward of the city’s economy, Walton pushed a slate of progressive policies, including overhauling law enforcement. Initially saying early in her bid that she’d “absolutely” campaign on a platform of defunding the police, she later softened her stance to say she’d advocate for stopping police from responding to mental health calls and eventually remove police from traffic enforcement and other quality-of-life calls.

In her statement Wednesday, Walton accused Brown of employing “dirty trick[s].” Brown denounced that statement and cast himself as a unifier after excoriating Walton over her expected loss. 

“She was wrong about a lot of what she said during the course of the campaign. She was wrong about wanting to defund police, she was wrong about wanting to raise our taxes as we’re coming through a pandemic. So just another misstatement from Ms. Walton. And the reason why she is the loser in the election is because of her inexperience and lack of qualifications for this position,” he said.

“I’m a healer, I’m a uniter, my entire political career, I’ve brought people together, and that’s what we’re going to do going forward in the city of Buffalo.”

Tags Byron Brown defund the police India Walton New York Progressivism Socialism

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