BUFFALO, N.Y.-- Seeking a fourth term as mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown says he's not concerned about a pair of fellow Democrats challenging him.
“This is America. It’s peoples’ right to run for office if they choose to," says Brown with a slight smile.
Indeed, while walking down Abbott Road in South Buffalo for the annual Labor Day parade, Brown showed no outward signs the Democratic primary was just eight days away.
And not only is Brown facing opposition within his own party, it's not some upstarts trying to make a name for themselves. Arguably, the challengers are accomplished.
Betty Jean Grant, a county lawmaker who also served on the Buffalo Common Council and Buffalo School Board argues Brown has not paid attention to poorer sections of the city which are largely minority. When 2 On-Your-Side asked if she thought Brown has failed people of color in his own city, Grant shot back, "Absolutely. Absolutely. He has not delivered."
City Comptroller Mark Schroeder, whose political resume includes elections to the county legislature and state assembly, says he's gone door to door across the city.
"There’s a mini-mutiny going on in these neighborhoods. They’re very upset that their way of living, that their life is miserable because the Mayor has not been helpful,” charges Schroeder.
So, why is Brown seeing this kind of vigorous opposition now?
Longtime Democrat Richard Lipsitz, who is also president of the WNY Area Labor Federation explains it this way, "When you’re a mayor for twelve years, you make some friends. Hopefully, you make a lot of friends and you make some enemies.”
Enemies may be a strong way to describe Grant and Schroeder, but it will take a great deal to defeat Brown.
Mayor Brown is widely supported by members of the Common Council. His relationship with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is close. Evidence of that is the other title Brown hold, chairman of the New York State Democratic Party. That post would be seemingly impossible without the active consent of Governor Cuomo.
Add to that Brown's political organization and his ability raise money. Campaign finance reports submitted last week suggest Brown has almost a half-million dollars in ready cash. Schroeder has a quarter of that.
The only public poll on the primary race, which came out in mid-August showed Brown well out in front.
If Brown is concerned about at all, he was not showing it while answering questions along Abbott Road this morning.
“I am not concerned about the fact that there is a challenge. I’m just trying to get out to as many of the voters as I can, to ask for their continued support and the response has been very overwhelming."
Primary voting is on September 12th.
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