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Write-In Candidate Declares Victory Over Socialist in Buffalo Mayoral Contest

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown speaks during a meeting in New York City, July 22, 2015. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Incumbent Byron Brown declared victory over self-described socialist India Walton in Tuesday’s Buffalo mayoral race, upsetting the progressive radical despite running as a write-in candidate after losing to Walton in the Democratic primary.

Brown declared victory with 59 percent of the vote as the election approached midnight. Walton has refused to concede the race until every vote is counted.

“At the very beginning, they said we can’t win, that it was impossible to win as a write-in,” the mayor said to a cheering crowd. “But you know, you can never count a Buffalonian out.

“The people chose four more years of the Brown administration,” he added. “The people chose one of the greatest comeback stories in our history.”

Addressing supporters early Wednesday morning, Walton denied that she was conceding but acknowledged that she was facing a “uphill battle.”

“I knew that this was going to be an uphill battle since the beginning,” she said. “Every vote needs to be counted. Right now it’s Walton against write-in, whoever that is. I think that who write-in is remains to be seen.”

An unknown number of write-in ballots remain to be counted, but if the current trend holds, Brown will have redeemed himself after losing to Walton in the June primary.

Drawing on the support of Republicans and moderate Democrats, Brown mounted a strong write-in campaign against the upstart Walton, who benefitted from national media attention and the endorsement of prominent national Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Shortly before the race was announced for Brown, Walton attended a press conference to condemn the cross-party campaign strategy of her adversary.

“Buffalo is a Democratic city, and what we have seen is my opponent actively cooperating and colluding with Republicans and dark money to defeat a person who is going to be a champion for the little guy,” Walton said several hours after polls closed.

“This is definitely not a concession speech,” she said.

Touting the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America to upset to an establishment incumbent in the primary, Walton continued to push for more radically progressive policy prescriptions throughout the general election. In the wake of the George Floyd protests, she called for reduced police presence in the city, despite steadily rising crime. In an interview with Curbed, Walton suggested that police abolition was her dream goal but that she would adopt a more gradual approach to dismantling the department.

As part of her police reform program, Walton vowed to end policing for small quantities of drugs as well as create a task force responsible for handling mental health calls so the burden wouldn’t fall on police. She also said that she wanted to train officers in trauma-informed care and implicit bias.

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