The socialist candidate in the Buffalo mayoral race, India Walton, got a major Establishment boost on Thursday night when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer endorsed her over the four-term incumbent, Byron Brown.
In the Democratic primary in June, Walton defeated Brown in a major upset in the solidly blue city. As the official Democratic candidate on the ticket, Schumer said in a statement that she deserves his support “fair and square” over Brown, who did not concede and is running as a write-in candidate. With early voting beginning this weekend for the November 2 election, Schumer urged voters to “cast their ballot for India Walton as the next mayor of Buffalo,” adding that “India is an inspiring community leader, mother, nurse, and a lifelong Buffalonian with a clear progressive vision for her hometown.”
The race, in which a younger progressive candidate faces off against the older generation in power, is representative of an emerging conflict within the Democratic Party — a dynamic Schumer cast aside with his endorsement. “I have always believed that the Democratic Party is a big tent and is strongest and most able to build national majorities and bring meaningful change [when] it is inclusive,” Schumer wrote. Walton has also received support from the Working Families Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The endorsement comes days after state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs said, using a peculiar analogy, that he didn’t think he was required in his role to endorse a candidate in Buffalo. “Let’s take a scenario, very different, where David Duke, you remember him? The grand wizard of the KKK? He moves to New York, he becomes a Democrat, and he runs for mayor in the city of Rochester, which has a low primary turnout, and he wins the Democratic line. I have to endorse David Duke? I don’t think so,” Jacobs said.
Brown, meanwhile, has allegedly courted the city’s small number of Republicans to support his write-in candidacy. “He’s openly taking the support of Republicans, and working with them,” Jeremy Zellner, the chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, told the New York Times last month.
If elected in two weeks, Walton would be Buffalo’s first female mayor and the first democratic socialist mayor of a major U.S. city since Frank Zeidler was elected in Milwaukee in 1948. In response to the endorsement, Walton tweeted that Schumer was “a real one.”