Within a week, India Walton, who considers herself a democratic socialist, changed the political landscape of western New York. The once barely-known challenger went out of his way to win the Buffalo mayor’s Democratic primary on June 22.
Outgoing President Byron Brown’s campaign was so stunned it didn’t know how to react. Once Walton was declared the winner, a dazed and confused attitude came from a Queen City politician who seemed so invincible. There was no back-up plan even considered in the event of an upheaval, such as securing another line to be on the ballot for November.
Brown and his team have also decided not to campaign. They hardly wanted to admit there was a primary.
What a mistake that turned out to be.
Earlier this week, with great fanfare, Brown announced his intention to run for office in writing. It was his only option to be re-elected.
This decision has already started to stir the pot for what could be an interesting fall season. In a press conference earlier this week, Brown said: âLet’s be clear, until after the general election, there is no ‘elected mayor’. “
According to the Associated Press, Walton then released a statement appealing Brown’s decision “deeply disappointing.”
“We urge Brown to accept the will of the voters, to end this futile campaign and to help us work for a smooth transition,” he added. she said, noting that âThe people of Buffalo deserve so much better than this. “
Brown’s lack of a plan, which just seems arrogant, sends a simple message that all politicians should already know: never take your constituency for granted. You might need their vote one day.
According to initial results, more than 21,000 voters made their voices heard. More importantly, those who went to the polls were on a mission. They thought it was time to change direction.
Closer to home, a second look at the county’s results offers a bit of insight. For example, most of the losers in major races had a plan B. Look no further than the heated race for First Ward in Dunkirk between Natalie Luczkowiak and incumbent Don Williams Jr.
After two years of alienation from party leaders, WIlliams realized that return on investment could be difficult. He also created a line – People Over Politics – which would guarantee a vote. Even though Luczkowiak won hands down – with over 700 votes counted – there is no easy path for November.
In the two primaries for the county lawmaker, incumbents were assured that the November election would include their names. For Christine Starks, who lost to fellow Democrat Susan Parker in District 4 of Fredonia, she has the green light from the Working Families Party. Bill Ward, who represents District 18 but lost to Martin Proctor for the Republican line, also has Democratic backing, according to petitions filed with the county electoral board.
Following his loss last week, Ward sent this advisory to area media. “Despite significant interference from the party committee, a good number of primary voters still support our campaign,” he said in an email. “While we haven’t overstepped the line, it’s clear the people want to keep a legislator in office who works for everyone in District 18 and Chautauqua County.”
Being on the ballot, even for a minor party, is a plus. Writing in a candidate takes extra effort on the part of voters. This means that those at the ballot box must understand how to do it while being fully engaged in a campaign.
Brown has an uphill battle. Those who lost on the evening of the primaries also face strong chances.
If anything, especially seeing what happened in Buffalo, incumbents who face a challenge should see the writing on the wall. There appears to be an electoral uprising, although the turnout was not too impressive.
This means that each candidate should be on guard. They are all in the hot seat.
John D’Agostino is the editor of OBSERVER, The Post-Journal and Times Observer in Warren, Pennsylvania. Send your comments to [email protected] or call 366-3000, ext. 253.