Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Monday announced that he is launching a write-in campaign to challenge socialist mayoral candidate India Walton in November’s general election.
“I am very proud to announce tonight that I will be a candidate for mayor as a write-in in the November general election,” said Brown, saying that supporters have reached out to encourage him to launch the campaign to challenge Walton again.
Though Walton won the Democratic primary last week by about seven points, Brown has refused to concede. Instead, Brown, an establishment Democrat, appeared to throw Walton’s win into question when he announced the write-in campaign.
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“It is important to know that no election is completed — no election is completed — until the general election takes place,” said Brown. He also said that the primary isn’t over yet, either, and there are still a number of absentee ballots that have yet to be counted — though he acknowledged that the results were unlikely to change.
After questioning the results of the primary, Brown continued to borrow directly from Republicans’ playbook, attacking Walton and fearmongering about socialism.
“There is tremendous fear that has spread across this community. People are fearful about the future of our city. They are fearful about the future of their families. They are fearful about the future of their children,” said Brown. “And they have said to me that they do not want a radical socialist occupying the mayor’s office in Buffalo city hall.”
Not only do Brown’s words echo the GOP’s rhetoric, but they also hearken back to McCarthyist propaganda that aimed to spread fear about communism in the mid-20th century during the Cold War.
Walton, on the other hand, is an unapologetic socialist, who ran on a progressive platform with the goal, she said last week, of “draw[ing] down power and resources to the ground level and into the hands of the people.”
She pointed out in an interview following her win that establishment politicians — including, perhaps, Brown himself — are fine with socialism and handouts for corporations and the rich. But “when it comes to providing the resources that working families need to thrive, socialism becomes scary at that point.”
Walton’s campaign called Brown’s new write-in challenge “deeply disappointing” in a statement, per WKBW. The campaign criticized Brown for his connections to Carl Paladino, a wealthy and influential real estate developer who formerly ran for governor of New York as a Republican in 2010. The campaign also called out Brown for his connections to the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the city’s police union.
“Brown can attempt to distance himself from Paladino all he wants, but it is clear who is really behind this campaign,” Walton’s campaign said. “We urge Brown to accept the will of the voters, end this futile campaign, and help us work towards a seamless transition. It would be a shame for Brown to ruin his legacy by partnering with right-wing real estate developers in this pointless effort. The people of Buffalo deserve so much better than this.”
Indeed, though Brown has said that he won’t accept help from Paladino for his new campaign, his speech on Monday night had echoes of what both Paladino and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have said about the Buffalo primary.
Paladino, who has come under fire for racist comments in the past, has been raising support for Brown to launch a write-in campaign over the past week. “Byron will run a write-in campaign highly supported by everybody in the city of Buffalo, and he’ll win and he’ll destroy her,” he said. “She’s a communist.”
The Erie County Democratic Party has said that they will continue to support Walton through the general election in the fall. “Mayor Brown is well within his rights to pursue a write-in candidacy, and we are grateful for his many years of service to this community,” the party said in a statement. “But the Democratic Party listens to the will of Democratic voters, and today India Walton is our candidate for Mayor of the City of Buffalo.”