Buffalo mayor Byron Brown seriously considering write-in campaign to challenge India Walton after losing primary

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Byron Brown didn’t win Tuesday’s Democratic primary, but Buffalo’s four-term mayor might not leave City Hall without a fight. Brown’s campaign said in a statement Friday evening that a write-in campaign is “under serious consideration” as he seeks a city-record fifth term in office.

Brown, who was seeking a record fifth term as mayor, trails India Walton by about 1,500 votes with absentee votes still uncounted.

In the statement, the Brown campaign claimed hundreds of people have contacted the mayor to ask him to run a November write-in campaign, and that an equal number of people have offered financial support.

“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,” the statement said. “Currently, Mayor Brown is weighing this outpouring of support from across the City and region, and taking this suggestion under serious consideration.”

Carl Paladino, the conservative developer, is one of the people who has asked the mayor to conduct a write-in effort, the campaign said. Paladino told News 4 he does not want a socialist running Buffalo.

“I’ll do everthing I can to destroy her,” Paladino said of Walton’s campaign. “That’s true. That’s truth.”

“She has no ability,” he added. “The past 16 years, we’ve had a competent City Hall doing things with competent people running the city. What’s wrong with that? Now you’re talking about bringing somebody in who brings in nothing.”

Walton will be the only name on the ballot in November — neither the Republican Party nor any other party is running a candidate, according to county elections officials.

In response to the Brown campaign statement Friday, Seamus Gallivan, a spokesperson for Walton, claimed the campaign has received support from several local and national leaders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Brian Higgins, state Sen. Sean Ryan, Assemblyman Jon Rivera, and Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner.

“While Byron Brown has every right to pursue a write-in campaign backed by far-right Trump supporters like Carl Paladino, we urge him to work in the spirit of our City of Good Neighbors as we transition to a Walton Administration,” Gallivan said.

Zellner said Wednesday the party is behind Walton. She received further public backing from Ryan on Friday.

“We’d like the mayor to work on a logical and rational transition,” Ryan said. “Stop listening to Carl Paladino. Get over it guys. You were sleeping and you lost.”

However, at least three of the nine Buffalo Common Councilmembers have publicly backed a potential Brown write-in effort: Chris Scanlon, Ulysees Wingo and Joe Golombek.

“I was knocking on doors asking people to go out and vote, and they said ‘oh, he’s going to win, they don’t need my vote,'” Golombek said. “I would just like to see a continuation of the development of the City of Buffalo. I believe with Mayor Brown moving forward that will continue. Shame on me for not being able to convince more of my neighbors to get out and vote.”

Still, other councilmen are waiting before making a decision.

“I’m waiting to weigh in until every vote is counted,” Common Council President Darius Pridgen said. Absentee votes for the primary election won’t be opened until Wednesday.

“We’re waiting on the mayor to decide what he’s going to do,” said Councilman David Rivera, who noted neither of the candidates have reached out to him.

Rasheed Wyatt, who represents the University District, has had his differences with Mayor Brown – most notably on school zone speed cameras. But Wyatt told News 4 Friday he does have a good working relationship with the Mayor, and for now, he’s remaining neutral.

“Whoever it’s going to be we’re going to work with them,” Wyatt said.

The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association threw its support behind Brown on Thursday. The union president said Thursday the group would “absolutely endorse” a Brown write-in campaign over Walton.

A group of Brown supporters rallied outside Sahlen Field on Thursday before Brown was scheduled to throw out the first pitch.

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