Buffalo, the second-largest city in New York, elected a woman, a political novice, and a socialist as mayor on Tuesday night. India Walton defeated 4-term incumbent Mayor Byron Brown by 1500 votes.
It was a shocking result — if you hadn’t been paying attention the last 4 years. Brown, a former state Democratic Party chair and a charter member of the New York political establishment, lost to a socialist because the socialist wasn’t part of the establishment. If that’s too complicated for you, look at the mayoral results in New York City.
Eric Adams is holding a lead at the moment. In fact, no one knows what’s going on with this “ranked voting” that’s confusing everyone. Indeed, the purpose of rank voting appears to be designed to make the result of the election as muddled as possible.
Not a bug. A feature.
Adams leads by a small plurality. The race will almost certainly be decided by voters’ second, third, fourth, and fifth choices. Adams may be the first choice of a plurality of voters, but with so many candidates in the race, he may end up not winning anything.
But Adams, a former Republican, supports funding for more police. His campaign platform reads, “If we are for SAFETY — we NEED the NYPD!”
He even calls for bringing back a plainclothes anti-crime unit that was disbanded during social justice protests last summer and for reviving controversial stop-and-frisk tactics to get guns off the streets. Two of the other leading candidates — Yang and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia — also reject “defund the police” appeals. As do most voters: A NY1/Ipsos poll showed that 72 percent of Democrats want more police on the streets.
Adams may yet win the race for Mayor in New York City. He’s not as far out of the mainstream New York establishment as socialist mayor-elect Walton from Buffalo, but Adams certainly goes against the grain of radical establishment politicians in the city.
CNN analyst Harry Enten writes that Adams, who once promised to pack a gun as mayor, “is recreating President Joe Biden’s 2020 primary coalition to a large extent” by winning the support of Black voters, older voters, and moderate and conservative voters. The outcome of the New York mayor’s race remains unpredictable because of the new ranked choice voting system, but already it seems fair to say: If progressivism can’t make it here, it can’t make it anywhere.
“Tonight’s result proves that Buffalonians demand community-minded, people-focused government, and we’re ready to serve them,” Ms. Walton said in a statement. “For too long, we’ve seen our city work for politicians, for developers, for the police union, but not for ordinary working families. In our city, everyone will have a seat at the table.”
Walton was able to take clear advantage of Brown’s close ties to Governor Andrew Cuomo whose scandal-plagued administration became a rallying cry for Walton and her revolutionaries.
Adams was able to capitalize on events. New York City is in the midst of a crime wave New Yorkers haven’t seen since the 1990s.
For the month of May 2021, the overall index crime in New York City rose 22% compared with May 2020, driven by a 46.7% increase in robbery (1,182 v. 806) and a 35.6% increase in grand larceny (2,848 v. 2,101). Felony assault saw a 20.5% increase compared to May 2020 (1,979 v. 1,643), and shooting incidents increased to 173 v. 100 in May 2020 (+73%). Burglary was the only index crime to post a reduction – down 21.8% (942 v. 1,205) in May 2021, compared to the previous year. There were 37 murders in May 2021, the same as May 2020.
The people don’t necessarily want “community-minded, people-focused government” as much as they want competent, honest government. Adams and Walton who both ran against the establishment, will have to deliver on those promises or risk suffering the same fate as their establishment brethren.