Metro

India Walton says victory ‘unlikely’ in Buffalo mayor race

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Democratic socialist India Walton said Wednesday “it seems unlikely” she’ll become the City of Buffalo’s next mayor after a potent write-in campaign by incumbent Byron Brown.

“Tens of thousands of write-in and absentee ballots have yet to be tabulated and we believe that democracy requires that every vote be counted and that any improprieties that occurred be brought to light,” Walton said in a statement.

“However, 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.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of the campaign we ran. It wasn’t just a field program with a messaging strategy attached; it was a deeply felt love letter to the working people of our beautiful city,” she added.

Brown told supporters he won the race Tuesday night and is on track to assume his fifth term as the city’s chief executive — despite having lost to Walton in a June Democratic Party primary. Brown ran as a write-in candidate, meaning voters had to physically write down his name on the ballot.

“The people have chosen four more years,” he said on Election Night.

Walton is trailing by nearly 20 percentage points, securing just over 41 percent of the vote compared to the over 58 percent held by the candidate or candidates ‘write-in’ — according to unofficial voting totals posted online by the Erie County Board of Elections.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown speaks to supporters at his election night party, late Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown speaks to supporters at his election night party on Nov. 2, 2021.
Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP

The figures indicate Brown handily bested Walton.

Although Buffalo attorney Ben Carlise also ran as a write-in candidate and some ballots could be contested, the writing on the wall appears to fall in Brown’s favor.

Approximately 58,000 votes were cast during the early voting period and on Election Day and another pot of 5,098 total absentee ballots have yet to be returned and counted. 

That process won’t start until Nov. 17 and the election results are on track to be certified by Nov. 27, per the BOE.

The hotly contested race attracted national attention after Walton defeated Brown during the June 2021 Democratic primary.

But Brown decided he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, announcing shortly afterwards he would launch a write-in campaign. 

Walton secured the Democratic nomination and endorsements from local officials, as well as big names in the party like Bronx Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had endorsed India Walton.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had endorsed India Walton.
Joshua Bessex, File/AP

Moderate powerhouses US Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand also threw their support behind Walton in the weeks preceding the election.

But others like Buffalo native Gov. Kathy Hochul refused to endorse in the match.

Brown was criticized for allegedly refusing to take Walton’s challenge seriously and campaign against her in June, saying recently on a debate stage that he was busy managing the COVID-19 crisis in the city.

He’s also received noteworthy endorsements on his own — Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi stumped for him in a campaign to “defeat socialism.”

The state Republican Party also spent money on his behalf, sending out mailers to GOP voters within the city’s limits encouraging them to “Write Down Byron Brown.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul did not endorse a candidate in the Buffalo election.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul did not endorse a candidate in the Buffalo election.
Frank Franklin II/AP

“We rejected socialism in Buffalo,” state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy gushed to The Post Wednesday.

“I felt he was probably one of the best mayors the Democratic Party had to offer — he’s someone who is pro-business, pro-law enforcement.”

“It was a no brainer when he was in trouble that Republicans would assist him. India Walton would have been a disaster,” he said.

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