A left-wing Democrat who won an earlier primary for mayor of Buffalo, N.Y., and is backed by two leading progressives was behind early Wednesday morning in a race that has yet to be called.
India Walton, who was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), beat incumbent four-term Mayor Byron Brown earlier this year but was lagging behind hours after the polls closed, according to the most recent polling numbers.
After his primary defeat, Brown decided to run as a write-in candidate and, according to local reports, those were arriving at polling stations in heavy numbers as of Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday morning. Officials say the votes could take between several days and a few weeks to tally.
Brown, however, has already claimed victory.
“The people chose four more years of a Brown administration,” Brown told supporters during remarks at his campaign headquarters, according to the Buffalo News. “The people chose one of the greatest comeback stories in our history.”
Nick Langworthy, head of New York state’s Republican Party, congratulated Brown after the incumbent declared victory.
“Congratulations Mayor @byronbrown,” Langworthy noted on Twitter. “Socialism has been defeated in Buffalo!”
Congratulations Mayor @byronwbrown. Socialism has been defeated in Buffalo!
— Nick Langworthy (@NickLangworthy) November 3, 2021
But Walton, thus far, has refused to concede.
“Every vote needs to be counted,” she noted late Tuesday. “Right now it’s Walton against ‘Write-In,’ whoever that is. I think that who ‘Write-In’ is, remains to be seen.”
Late last month, Ocasio-Cortez went to Buffalo to stump for Walton, 39, a nurse and political activist who is widely known for railing against Brown’s handling of a June 2020 incident involving Buffalo police who pushed an older and knocked him to the ground after he refused to follow commands.
The incident led Walton to join calls from the left to “defund the police.” She was also seen hurling profanities at anti-police protests in the ensuing months.
However, she dialed back her anti-law enforcement rhetoric as the general election came close and called instead for more police accountability as well as utilizing mental health professionals to help deal with criminals, according to the Washington Post.
To that end, more moderate Democratic voices including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also backed Walton.
“Dems are at our best when we build a big tent & forge inclusive coalitions to fight for everyday people,” he said last month in a statement.
Up and down the ballot in New York, however, Republicans managed victories on Tuesday in enclaves long held by Democrats.
“Congratulations to Republicans across New York and the North Country on their exciting and impressive victories tonight. Here in the North Country, Republicans won by record margins and flipped multiple Democrat-held seats,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, in a statement.
“This was a clear referendum on the disastrous ten months of Joe Biden’s administration and a Republican resurgence fueled by outrage after years of corrupt, Albany politicians destroying our state,” she added.
“The strength of our grassroots support has never been stronger. The work to save New York started tonight with Republican victories up and down the ballot, and it will continue in 2022 when we retire [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and finally take back the Governor’s mansion,” she added.
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