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Democrat gets GOP support as write-in over socialist in Buffalo mayor’s race

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If this Democrat wins his race for Buffalo mayor it could be thanks to area Republicans.

The New York State Republican Party sent mailers to thousands of Buffalo voters urging them to back the write-in campaign of moderate-Democrat incumbent Mayor Byron Brown over socialist India Walton, who beat him in the primary.

The move inserts the opposition party smack dab in the middle of a Democratic Party civil war upstate.

The GOP is supporting Brown because it has no candidate in the race in a bit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” strategizing.

They see Brown, a four-term incumbent and former co-chairman of the state Democratic Party, as a better alternative to having a progressive Democrat backed by the Democratic Socialists of America run the Empire State’s second-largest city.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown lost to India Walton in the Democratic primary election.
AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File

“The mailers went to a broad universe of voters who we believe will vote to stop socialism in the City of Buffalo,” said state GOP spokeswoman Jessica Proud.

Other big-name Buffalo-area Republicans are aiding Brown with campaign donations — including former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco and businessman Carl Paladino, the GOP’s 2010 candidate for governor, and the local GOP is part of the incumbent’s coalition.

“I’m not surprised that moderates, Republicans and conservatives are supporting the mayor because they want to make sure the region keeps moving forward in a positive direction,” said Vacco, who attended a Tuesday fundraiser for Brown.

 Carl Paladino
Buffalo-area Republican Carl Paladino is supporting Brown in the mayoral election.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Vacco said Walton, a nurse and community organizer, is a “total unknown” with “zero experience in being an elected official at any level — let alone the likes of running the second largest municipality in the state.”

“Her platform and the things she is highlighting in terms of what her priorities would be, I don’t believe the vast amount of those in the city of Buffalo are prepared for that left hand turn. It will be a turn to the left,” he said.

Paladino said, “Byron is going to run away with it. Walton is a disaster.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) campaigned with Walton last weekend.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Walton stunned the political world by defeating Brown in the June Democratic primary — the biggest upset since democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez toppled ex-Congressman and Queens Democratic Party leader Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary. But Brown is doing a write-in campaign, “Write Down Byron Bown.”

Ocasio-Cortez stumped with Walton last weekend, and likened the failure of other Democrats to support the party’s nominee to “fascism.”

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand also endorsed Walton.

But Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo, native, and state Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs have remained neutral in the race.

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul has not endorsed anyone in the Buffalo mayoral race.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

Meanwhile, Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, a moderate Democrat who is weighing a run for governor, recently stumped with Brown, saying it was important to “defeat socialism.”

Walton’s campaign was unfazed by the GOP support for Brown, describing him as a sellout. Critics also complain that close advisers to Brown have been convicted or indicted for corruption.

“Byron Brown’s tenure has been almost singularly geared toward padding the profits of the wealthiest corporate real estate developers, most of whom have been Trump-supporting Republicans. It’s not surprising to see that he has completely sold out the Democratic party in favor of his wealthy and connected campaign donors,” said Walton spokesman Jesse Myerson.

Brown has repeatedly referred to Walton as a “radical socialist.”

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