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Days after historic upset, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown's supporters urge write-in campaign

WBFO file photo

Supporters of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown insist he may still be able to win a record-setting fifth term in office, if he runs in November as a write-in candidate.

Brown’s bid for that fifth term suffered a shocking setback Tuesday evening, when community activist India Walton unofficially defeated the incumbent in the Democratic primary election. Though absentee ballots had yet to be counted, Walton led Brown by 1,507 votes on primary night and declared victory.

With no Republican candidate on the ballot in November, this week’s Democratic primary is considered the de facto mayoral election.

Brown has not conceded, nor has he commented on Tuesday’s result. He did make a public appearance Thursday evening, throwing a ceremonial first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays game in Sahlen Field.

His campaign, however, issued a statement Friday afternoon that Brown is being urged to run on a write-in effort.

"Hundreds of people have contacted the mayor to ask him to run as a write-in candidate in November, including Carl Paladino," the statement says. "An equal number of people have offered to financially contribute to such an effort. The mayor has thanked all of the people who have contacted him for their outreach and support, and their belief that the City of Buffalo needs strong, experienced and consistent leadership in the Mayor's office. Currently, Mayor Brown is weighing this outpouring of support from across the city and region and taking this suggestion under serious consideration."

Paladino and other critics of Walton are pointing to her lack of government experience as well as her democratic socialist position. Opponents emphasize the word “socialist” to attack Walton, and some liken the term to communism as it was conducted in China and the former Soviet Union. But proponents of democratic socialism say it is, in reality, a policy of combining government control over several sectors with democracy, with the goal of achieving economic and social equity.

Walton, if elected again in November, would become Buffalo’s first woman to hold the mayor's office.

She has gained support from prominent leaders outside Buffalo, including Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.