India Walton’s Mayoral Defeat in Buffalo

Dayne Goodwin

India Walton’s Mayoral Defeat in Buffalo Sets Dangerous Precedents for the Left
by C.M. Lewis & Tyler Walicek, November 3, 2021

As results were tallied on Tuesday, it became clear that incumbent Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Brown’s campaign to restore himself to the mayoralty of Buffalo via a last-ditch write-in campaign had succeeded, defeating democratic socialist and Democratic Party nominee India Walton. Brown will now serve his fifth consecutive term. Walton’s defeat comes as a major blow to many on the left who were heartened by the socialist woman of color’s ascendancy in an unlikely blue-collar city, as well as her espousal of policies like criminal legal reform, economic redistribution, local democracy, and other core left ambitions.

Brown’s write-in campaign initially appeared quixotic: a grasp at retaining power by a jilted mayor who was felled by his own hubris. He failed to debate or significantly campaign against Walton in the primary, dismissing her as a potential threat. However, despite a slow start to the write-in, Brown, drawing upon the kind of connections that come with two decades in the mayoralty, was able to gather powerful allies and amass momentum to overcome the socialist Democratic nominee, literally rubber-stamping his return to office and ensuring the continuation of punishing neoliberal austerity in a city marred by yawning racial and class inequalities

The forces arrayed against Walton were formidable. Business interests and local power brokers had an intrinsic incentive to maintain Brown, who was a friend of real estate development and a major player in an entrenched New York Democratic Party machine, formerly headed by now-deposed Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Brown and his allies leveraged his deep donor networks, a friendly media establishment, and a local elite who were “running around with their hair on fire,” panicking at the notion of a socialist executive. With these powers aligned behind him, Brown was able to chart an unorthodox path to victory.
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