Progressive Group To Air TV Ad Supporting India Walton's Mayoral Campaign

Walton, a democratic socialist, defeated Buffalo, New York, Mayor Byron Brown in the Democratic primary, but Brown is running a well-funded write-in campaign.
India Walton's allies are seeking to rebut an inaccurate attack about her plans to reduce police funding.
India Walton's allies are seeking to rebut an inaccurate attack about her plans to reduce police funding.
Lindsay DeDario/Reuters

One of New York’s biggest progressive groups is launching a six-figure TV advertising blitz in support of India Walton, the Democratic mayoral nominee for Buffalo, New York, who is locked in a tough general election battle against incumbent Mayor Byron Brown.

The New York Working Families Party plans to spend more than $100,000 airing a 30-second ad defending Walton’s policing and public safety platform against an attack by Brown.

“The Working Families Party is fighting back against this misinformation campaign by setting the record straight and letting voters know which candidate actually has their backs,” said Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the New York Working Families Party.

Brown, who has served four terms as a Democrat, mounted a write-in campaign against Walton, a self-described democratic socialist, after losing to her in the Democratic primary in June.

He has seized on Walton’s plans to reduce police department funding by $7.5 million, claiming in a TV ad that she would fire 100 police officers.

Walton does not plan to fire cops, and instead proposes generating savings from the department by encouraging some officers to retire.

The WFP’s ad in support of Walton features Buffalo voters dismissing Brown’s attack against her as unfair.

“Did you see this ad? It’s the same thing they did to Joe Biden,” one woman declares.

A man adds, “Lies! Paid for by developers and big money that want to run our city.”

Brown’s use of real city police officers in the spot attacking Walton has also prompted an ethics complaint from an attorney supporting Walton. The attorney argues that having those cops discuss their political views violates city rules barring law enforcement officers from using their official position to promote or oppose a political party.

Walton, a registered nurse and progressive activist, shocked political observers with her primary victory over Brown in June. She ran on ensuring that the mid-sized city better addresses the needs of its mostly Black, low-income, and working-class residents. Walton envisions taking a tougher line with both Buffalo’s controversial police department and the city’s influential class of real-estate developers.

Brown, who effectively ignored Walton during the primary, is now in serious contention in the November 2 general election. Many centrist or conservative voters inclined to support Brown over Walton either stayed home during the primary or are not Democrats. He is Walton’s only main opponent.

Brown has cast himself as a shepherd of Buffalo’s economic recovery and a supporter of police funding.

Given Brown’s business-friendly approach to date and fears about Walton’s support for greater regulation and taxation, the state’s deep-pocketed business establishment has rallied behind Brown. The New York State Association of Realtors Fund, the political arm of a realtor trade group, has spent $170,000 on a paid canvassing program in support of Brown.

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