Speed Reads

2021 elections

Buffalo appears to have elected a socialist mayor in big upset over 4-term incumbent

Democratic primary voters in Buffalo, New York, appear to have selected nurse and political newcomer India Walton over four-term incumbent Mayor Byron Brown on Tuesday, in what Politico calls "a stunning loss for one of the most prominent figures in New York's Democratic establishment." Walton, a socialist, leads Brown by 1,507 votes with all in-person votes tallied, a number about equal to the absentee ballots remaining to be counted. Brown has not conceded the race.

Assuming Walton keeps her lead, she is the presumptive mayor-elect. Buffalo hasn't picked a Republican mayor since the Kennedy administration, and Republicans didn't even field a candidate this year. Walton would be the first woman ever elected mayor in Buffalo as well as the first socialist, and Buffalo, with 260,000 people, is on track to be the largest city led by a socialist since Milwaukee's Frank Zeidler left office in 1960. Walton was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and also the Working Families Party, an influential progressive third party in New York. 

Brown, a former state senator and recent chairman of the state Democratic Party, was first elected mayor in 2005. He is a close ally of embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), appearing with him at four press briefings in the past few months, Politico notes, which is "twice as many as any other elected official in the state."