Buffalo’s Mayor Race Tests New York Democrats as Election Day Approaches

© REUTERS / Lindsay DeDarioFILE PHOTO: Community activist India Walton speaks through a megaphone as she campaigns to replace four-term Mayor Byron Brown, in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 15, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: Community activist India Walton speaks through a megaphone as she campaigns to replace four-term Mayor Byron Brown, in Buffalo, New York, U.S., December 15, 2020.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.10.2021
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A face-off between Democratic nominee and Buffalo, New York’s Mayor Byron Brown, who is seeking a fifth term, escalated over the summer and into the fall after Walton defeated Brown in a Democratic primary earlier this year — turning the race into a barnburner between progressives and moderates in the coming year.
India Walton, a 39-year-old Democratic socialist who has never held political office, is locked in a tough race with Brown, 63, New York’s former Democratic chair, who after losing the nomination announced he would run in the general election as a write-in candidate.
After winning her mayoral primary in June, Walton is poised to become the first socialist mayor whose focus is to lessen significant spikes in violence by determining the underlying causes of crime rather than heavier policing, as it is mentioned in her campaign website.
The progressive activist alleged that she felt compelled to run after witnessing Buffalo police attack a 75-year-old man during protests over the murder of George Floyd.
As Election Day approaches, a flood of Democrats from New York City have hitched their wagon to the shores of Lake Erie to vote for their chosen candidate.
“It’s a very high-profile race, and people from outside of Buffalo on both sides have been involved,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), according to The Hill.
After Andrew Cuomo’s resignation over sexual harassment claims, the Democratic politics were presumably shaken by progressive candidates like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY), and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), who beat longtime and more moderate Democratic incumbents in primaries recent years.
Supporters of Walton say a new era of progressivism is emerging, whether Democratic moderates want to admit it or not — and Buffalo seems to be the ideal first stop.
“The defenders of the status quo keep making excuses. The incumbent wasn’t paying attention or turnout was low or it was an aberration for a lot of different reasons. But we’ve now had AOC and Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones,” Gianaris reportedly said.
“There is something happening in the Democratic Party and those who don’t see it, who don’t open their arms to this element of the party, will likely suffer politically.”
“Cuomo’s demise and India’s rise are related. They’re about a new moment in New York… people are really ready for a change,” said Zephyr Teachout, an attorney whose name was drawn at a fundraising rally held for Walton days after she won the primary.
“I think the public is pushing for change. Both candidates see it. It’s going to be a hell of a couple of weeks here.”
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