A socialist candidate in Buffalo, New York, defeated the city’s four-term mayor in a major upset in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
India B. Walton beat Mayor Byron Brown, 52 percent to 45 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race late Wednesday morning.
If Walton, 39, wins the general election in November, she will become the first socialist mayor of a large American city since 1960, when Frank Zeidler left office in Milwaukee. Her chances of winning are high since Buffalo hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1965.
“This victory is ours. It is the first of many,” she told a crowd of her supporters Tuesday night as election results rolled in. “If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice. We are coming.”
After declaring victory, Walton called her mother by phone and was seen in a video recorded by The Buffalo News celebrating: “Mommy, I won. Mommy, I’m the mayor of Buffalo. Well, not until January, but, yeah.”
Walton has worked as a nurse and community activist in Buffalo and had never run for elected office.
Brown, 62, did not concede Tuesday night, saying the race was too close to call. He has served as Buffalo’s mayor since 2006 and previously was chair of the New York Democratic Party and a member of the state Legislature.
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.