Buffalos Walton on verge of becoming first big city socialist mayor in 60 years – POLITICO
ALBANY, N.Y. — Political newcomer and unabashed socialist India Walton is on the verge of defeating Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in a Democratic primary on Tuesday night. It would be a stunning loss for one of the most prominent figures in New York’s Democratic establishment.
If Walton holds onto her lead and goes on to win the general election, she would become the first socialist mayor of a large American city since Milwaukee’s Frank Zeidler, who left office in 1960.
As the the state’s progressives struggled to drive the narrative in New York City’s mayoral election, organizations such as the left-leaning Working Families Party made Walton’s campaign a major priority. Still, she had scant resources compared with her well-established opponent, an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
With over 99 percent of in-person votes counted, Walton led Brown 52 percent to 45 percent.
The Democratic nominee is always the overwhelming favorite in a Buffalo mayoral election. Voters haven’t sent a Republican to City Hall since John F. Kennedy was in the White House.
Brown was seeking a fifth term. He ran a Rose Garden campaign and avoided debates.
The mayor recently served as Cuomo’s pick to chair the state Democratic Party. He’s appeared with Cuomo at four press briefings in the past couple of months, twice as many as any other elected official in the state.
Long-struggling Buffalo has undergone something of a renaissance during Brown’s tenure. Major projects have been built downtown, and the city is poised to gain population in a census for the first time in generations.
But there’s always been some criticism that those gains have not benefited all of the city.
“Folks are ready for change,” Walton said in an interview earlier this month. “The mayor’s been in office for 16 years, and we have not seen significant improvements in many of our communities, especially those that are primarily occupied by Black people and brown people and poor people.”