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Brown wins in a landslide - an update

I'm not surprised Byron Brown won the Democratic mayoral primary Tuesday. His margin of victory is bigger than I expected, however.

I suspect it's bigger than the mayor anticipated, as well, given how he went negative on Mickey Kearns the last week of the campaign. Candidates usually take the high road if their polls show them in a commanding position. Or perhaps Brown just didn't want to take any chances, given his desire to not just win, but win convincingly, for reasons I'll explain in a minute.

No matter. Brown won 63 to 37 percent, according to Board of Elections results.

Folks, that's a landslide, which on one level represents a mission accomplished if you are among the many who believe the mayor wanted to win by a wide margin in order to sell himself as a viable candidate for lieutenant governor on a potential ticket with Andrew Cuomo or as a successor to Louise Slaughter if and when she retires from Congress. If you want to travel in those circles, you have to demonstrate you command your own backyard.

Brown demonstrated he can raise money - more than $1.7 million - and get out the vote in the face of adversity.

The mayor is nevertheless coming out of the campaign damaged goods because of the numerous investigations and audits of him and/or his administration for everything from One Sunset to coercive campaign e-mails sent to city employees to his possible role in the decision to not charge Leonard Stokes after his car was ticketed with a stolen handicapped parking permit in the window.

How those investigations play out is yet to be determined. But I suspect Brown's troubles are going to give potential political suitors pause. But that's a story for another day.

The story for today is that Brown won - and won big. How did he do it?

Update: 11:37 a.m.: Brown won largely because he won the black vote overwhelming while doing reasonably well with white voters.

Brown won 97 percent in the predominantly black Masten District, 84 percent in University and 75 percent in Ellicot. Those three districts provided Brown 13,390 of his 24,595 votes.

While Kearns won four of nine Council districts - the same ones Kevin Gaughan won in the primary four years ago - he swamped Brown only in his home turf in South Buffalo. The South District had the highest turnout of any in the city - 45 percent, vs. a citywide average of 35 percent - and Kearns won 78 percent of the vote. (Take that, Brian Higgins.)

But the mayor picked up no less than 44 percent of the vote in the other Council districts that swung to Kearns, including 44 percent in Delaware.

Turnout appears to have played less of a role than you might think, although the percentage of voters making it to the polls was the lowest in districts like North and Niagara, where Kearns needed to have a strong showing to have any hope of winning.

Bob McCarthy has this analysis with the details and I put together this chart with turnout and vote by Council district. Take a look.

In the end, it looks like a Kearns upset was not in the cards, partly because of Brown's strengths - including money and the power of the incumbency - and partly because of Kearns' shortcomings as a candidate.

Yeah, he raised some cash at the 11th hour and made a push that made things interesting at the end, but for too long the Kearns campaign was missing in action. Even in the home stretch, when he started to get people's attention, Kearns did not impress. It wasn't enough for him to simply be the anti-Brown.

Also of note is the proxy fight involving the election of candidates for the Democratic nominating convention for State Supreme Court to be held later this month.

The race in the 141st Assembly District represented by Crystal Peoples pitted a Grassroots slate against one headed by Arthur O. Eve Jr., who is no friend of the mayor. The Grassroots slate picked up eight of nine seats, led by Peoples and Sen. Antoine Thompson. Another winner was Ellicot Common Council Member Brian C. Davis. Eve was the only non-Grassrooter to win.

Meanwhile, the race in the 144th Assembly District represented by Sam Hoyt saw the Hoyt slate pick up eight of nine seats, led by the assemblyman and several elected officials who had endorsed Kearns. The only pro-Brown candidate to win was North Common Council Member Joe Golombeck.

Here are the results for those races.

More update, 11:37 a.m.: So, Brown will be around for another four years, short of election to another office or legal troubles stemming from the assorted ongoing investigations. 

It will be interesting to see what kind of tone he sets for a second term. He was far from conciliatory  Tuesday night, continuing to attack his vanquished opponent and saying on one hand that he will reach out to his opponents while quickly adding that they also need to reach out to him. It's wasn't so much what he said, but how he said it.

Graceful in victory he was not.

Yet another update, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.: Chris Smith, aka Buffalo Geek, has an interesting analysis.


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