Today’s article may be a bit out of my usual lane but I couldn’t resist the temptation to write it. I’ll explain and expand below.
Wednesday’s newspapers blasted the news that India Walton, a political novice with a pronounced socialist streak, defeated four term incumbent Byron Brown in the Democratic primary for Mayor of Buffalo. Friday morning Michelle Goldberg’s opinion piece is the New York Times was entitled How Did a Socialist Triumph in Buffalo? That is where the temptation became too great and was the combined genesis for today’s article. I was born in Buffalo and raised in an adjacent suburb. I moved away over 20 years ago but “cut a lot of my teeth” there. I do not know Walton. I briefly met Brown a time or two years ago but sincerely doubt either would recognize the other if we passed on the street. My general impression of him and his reputation with mutual friends is that he is a good guy. Goldberg and I share an alma mater, albeit decades apart and I tend to read her column.
The race intrigued me and I researched it. Separating the signals from the noise, it seems to me a case of Brown taking Walton too lightly and not going all out in the campaign. I’ve seen this before. It reminded me of a Western New York congressional race from several decades ago. The Democrat was the heavy favorite on paper (as Brown was). Brown reportedly ran a “Rose Garden” style campaign while Walton “hit the bricks and pressed the flesh”. In the congressional race of days gone by the Democratic favorite failed to listen to the advice of his campaign managers and refused to spend additional money on late advertising so confident was he of his victory. That was in a general election race and his Republican challenger upset him. The net (and to many political operative’s minds more important) result was the loss of a House seat that never should have happened. In politics that is a big deal!
The press has made a big deal of the city of Buffalo’s electorate being heavily Democratic and therefore winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general. That is probably true especially since the Republicans won’t even have a candidate on the November ballot. However, there is one possible card still to be played. Brown could run a write-in campaign. It’s not likely and it would be difficult to win but it could happen and Brown would be viable.
If Brown chooses that route, I suggest he shake every hand he can and make every speaking engagement he is can unearth. His only chance at political redemption is to beg forgiveness.
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