BUFFALO, N.Y. — For now, it looks like incumbent Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will be on the November ballot after all.
Federal Judge John Sinatra on Friday granted Brown an independent ballot line, even though he turned his petitions in months after the state deadline and following his Democratic primary loss to India Walton.
The Erie County Board of Elections invalidated Brown's petitions for the 'Buffalo Party' he created because they were late, but in court, Judge Sinatra agreed with the argument the new state deadline, established in 2019, was too early and prohibited fair ballot access.
Brown says he was confident the judge would side with him because they cited legal precedent for the argument.
However, Walton called the decision a "travesty" and "mockery of justice."
She called into question Sinatra, a Donald Trump appointee and the brother of developer Nick Sinatra, who regularly contributes to Brown's campaign, including as recently as last year.
"Being on the ballot significantly increases our chances of winning,” Brown said. “We felt confident that we were going to win as a write-in candidate but being on the ballot will significantly increase my chances of winning on November 2.”
"The New York State Legislature has every right to set its own political calendar, which the Erie County Board of Elections on a bipartisan basis ruled to uphold,” Walton said. “Today's ruling flies in the face of our democratic process and constitutes a grave insult to Buffalo voters and our duly elected state legislators."
Brown says the campaign did not know who the judge would be when they took the case to court and doesn't question the integrity of the courts.
Walton says her campaign will immediately file an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and feels confident they will win there.
The Erie County Board of Elections certifies ballots on September 9, so it can print and send out military and overseas absentees.
Brown says his campaign will look at how to move forward now with the write-in campaign. According to state election law, a candidate who is on the ballot is not eligible to be written in.