Incumbent Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who was running as a write-in candidate, has declared victory as he held a nearly 20-percentage point lead over his Democratic Party opponent India Walton, a socialist backed by many high-profile progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.
However, Walton, who defeated Brown in a stunning upset in the June Democrat primary, refused to concede the mayoral election until all the votes were counted.
Although the race’s unofficial results showed Brown well ahead of Walton with more than 57,000 votes cast on Election Day and during the early voting period, mail-in and military ballots won’t be counted until Nov. 16, meaning that final results will not be known for weeks.
In a victory speech to supporters from his campaign headquarters, Brown said that the election is “not just a referendum on the future of the city of Buffalo, it was a referendum on the future of our democracy,” according to the Post.
Long Island Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi, who endorsed Brown, told the Post that the mayor’s victory “is a clear triumph of core Democratic values over the far-left socialist agenda. Voters know that pragmatism, solving problems, and actually getting things done is what makes government work better.”
Brown, a moderate Democrat, did not leave the race after his primary defeat and instead started a write-in campaign.
As Brown declared victory, he received congratulations from New York Republican State Party chairman Nick Langworthy, who wrtote on Twiter, “Congratulations Mayor @byronbrown. Socialism has been defeated in Buffalo!”
Walton at first backed the call by progressives to “defund the police” and was heard shouting profanity at anti-police demonstrations, according to The Washington Post.
However, her tone on the issue became less strident as the general election drew near, instead emphasizing that she would strive for better police accountability.