In a bitter upset for progressives, four-term incumbent Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown defeated his own party’s official nominee, India Walton, in an unprecedented write-in campaign.
Walton, a self-proclaimed socialist, had beat Brown in the Democratic primary this summer, which normally would have all but ensured her a victory in the general election.
But Brown, seeking a fifth term, did not go quietly. After failing to get his name on the ballot as an independent, he launched a write-in candidacy in an attempt to attract moderates and conservatives—complete with the slogan “Write Down Byron Brown.”
The effort paid off, with write-in ballots accounting for 59 percent of the vote before absentees were counted.
“They said it was impossible to win as a write-in, but you can never count a Buffalonian out,” Brown told an excited crowd at a campaign watch party.
“The people chose four more years of the Brown administration,” he continued. “The people chose one of the greatest comeback stories in our history.”
Walton—who was endorsed by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—waited until Wednesday afternoon to concede.
“While we anticipate that the margins will narrow, it seems unlikely that we will end up with enough votes to inaugurate a Walton administration in January,” she wrote on Twitter.
Despite the loss, she said her campaign was successful in “ending the era of complacent Buffalo politicians.”
“No longer can they feel confident that they can rest easy in their seats of power,” she wrote.
“No longer can feel that their offices are safe without having to do anything to improve the lives of their constituents. They now know that, unless they step up for our city, their careers are at risk. We taught them that.”