Buffalo Mayor Loses Re-Election Primary; Retains Seat via Write-In Campaign

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He’s not Montgomery Brewster from the beloved Brewster’s Millions, but Buffalo, NY Mayor Byron Brown. This now five-term Mayor did what many have thought impossible and won re-election to the mayoral seat by write-in ballot. This is a rather unique situation and one for the history books, for sure.

First reported by NBC affiliate WGRZ, “With 97 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, write-in candidates have nearly 33,900 votes or 59 percent. The results do not say who received those write-in votes, but Brown has waged an aggressive write-in campaign since he lost the Democratic Party primary back in June.” This is, in large part, a result of the primary elections back in June, where Brown found himself losing the nomination to a ‘democratic socialist’ named India Walton.

Walton’s campaign found her receiving support and a campaign endorsement from fellow ‘democratic socialist’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). AOC’s message during this campaign visit was simple: “Any Democrat right now that is trying to establish a precedent of not uniting behind the party’s nominee is playing a dangerous game.” This was in response to Brown’s aggressive push for the write-in campaign.

As there was no Republican in the race, the AP basically declared victory for Walton after her primary victory as she looked to have no real opponent in this race. In turn, this lit a fire under the people of Buffalo to write in Byron Brown. Mayor Brown has been an advocate for change in the ‘City of Good Neighbors,’ but not in the same ‘bottom up’ ways Walton wanted to take the city. Under his charge, the city has undergone a massive transformation, and not all of it for the better.

Buffalo has been losing businesses left and right since the 1970’s as the taxation rate there is among some of the highest in the country. Thus, it makes Buffalo the third poorest mid-sized city in the nation. By writing in Byron Brown, the city has chosen the devil they know over the devil they don’t. The alignment with AOC may have been the tipping point since AOC’s politics don’t mesh well in a blue-collar city like Buffalo.

Given the resurgence Buffalo has been able to gain since Brown took the office back in 2005, it’s a sign his policies have been working, at least to a degree. With the city attracting big names like Labatt Blue into opening U.S. offices in the city, and a revitalization project to bring small businesses and the arts back to Buffalo, there are signs that his plans may have taken time…but they are working. With an additional influx of people moving to the area from places like NYC during the pandemic through a shift to ‘work from home,’ these people chose to leave progressive politics in the rear-view.

Now the only question left to answer is: what is Mayor Brown going to do with his record-setting fifth term in office? One thing is for sure, this will be an interesting result. For the people of Buffalo, this is what they wrote in for, and now we get to see what they will receive for their efforts.

This campaign tactic is one not often seen and is rarely successful. The last time a write-in candidate took a meaningful election was back in 2010 in Alaska. During that U.S. Senate race, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was able to garner enough support to oust a Tea Party-backed candidate who had won the Republican primary. It’s good news, though. It means that voters are engaged…and they’re voting for what’s right…even if the answer they want isn’t a choice on the ballot.