According to former City Housing Commissioner Joe Mascia, the embattled Mayor Byron Brown — who lost his own party’s nomination to Democrat India Walton earlier this year — has been “secretly endorsed” by the Erie County Republican Party. Mascia has witnessed local Republican officials organizing Brown’s campaign and steering donations to the four-term incumbent amid ongoing FBI investigations of his administration.
The move could backfire on Brown, who is relying heavily on his traditional base of support in the Masten District, a higher-end majority-African American council district that typically enjoys the City’s highest voter turnout. While many Black Republicans in the Masten District might embrace such a party switch, it’s unlikely that voters in Buffalo’s poorer majority-African American council districts will leave the Democratic Party line.
Brown remains deeply unpopular west of Main Street and his support in the City’s poorest districts — Fillmore and Ellicott — where voters feel ignored by the Brown Administration, is sparse. Now that Brown is overtly organizing with the Republicans, it could alienate him from the City’s most marginalized neighborhoods, which have suffered most from urban disinvestment, deindustrialization, and dilapidated infrastructure.
“Interesting afternoon for Lori and I. [We] attended a meet and greet sponsored by a personal friend. It was for several Republican candidates running for county-wide races. The interesting part is when the Republican Director of Parking Violation [Kevin Helfer] appointed by Mayor Brown gave a demonstration to the Republicans in attendance how to write in or stamp the name of Byron Brown because he has no line!” Mascia explained in a statement circulating on social media.
“Why are these Republicans — including the city chairman — endorsing a Democrat who didn’t seriously campaign in a primary and lost? Why didn’t the Republican Party run a candidate, what’s in it for them anyway?” Mascia postulates. “Are Brown and his supporters this desperate?”
Mascia believes Brown is now concealing his relationships with the Republican Party — which local political operatives have long described as “deep and penetrating.” The revelation could sink Brown’s reelection effort, he explains.
“Got to admit Byron is smart. If he takes the Republican line with only 8,000 Republicans in the City, no Democrat will vote for him, so he does a back door deal with the Republican Party not to offend the City Democrats,” Mascia explains.
“I even got a glimpse of the stamp for voters who can’t spell Brown,” he adds.