Rep. Tom Suozzi — who may challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul in a primary next year — backed Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown on Saturday, declaring the Western New York race to be a battlefront in a broader ideological war in the Democratic primary.
During a rally when he made his expected endorsement of the sitting mayor in his write-in campaign against Democratic nominee India Walton, Suozzi (D-Long Island) implored Buffalo residents to do help “defeat the socialists.”
“The eyes of the country are going to be focused on Buffalo. We don’t want to wake up on Nov. 3, and people say, ‘Buffalo just elected the first socialist mayor in the past 50 years.’ We can’t make that happen in Buffalo!” he bellowed on Saturday to a group gathered at Brown’s campaign headquarters. “If we let them win, we will lose everything. We will lose the American people, we will lose New Yorkers, will lose Buffalonians, if we adopt that type of extremist agenda.”
He added, “I’m here to say very, very clearly that we need to elect Byron Brown and defeat the socialists.”
In a shocking upset, Brown lost the June mayoral primary to Walton — a Democratic socialist nurse — but has refused to go down without a fight. Instead, the four-term Democratic incumbent is running as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 2 general election.
“We have to send a message to these socialists with bad ideas that it stops right here in the city of Buffalo,” Brown said on Saturday following Suozzi’s introduction. “This is the firewall for our state; this is the firewall for our nation.”
While Hochul has not yet endorsed in the contest, Suozzi is attempting to present himself as the leading voice of the moderate faction in the Democratic Party in the Empire State who will combat the Democratic Socialist of America-aligned wing of it, sources previously said.
Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive who ran for governor in 2006, has been a vocal advocate for removing the cap on SALT deductions and sources have told The Post he’s mulling a gubernatorial bid.
In early August — when then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s days in office were numbered following the release of the monumental state Attorney General sexual harassment probe — Suozzi was among a gaggle of Democrats who flocked to Rev. Al Sharpton to gauge their standing if they were to run for governor in 2022.
On Friday, The Post reported that Suozzi would attempt to outflank Hochul — the moderate former lieutenant governor and congresswoman representing Western New York — on her home turf in Buffalo.
On Saturday, he brushed aside getting ripped by left-leaning politicians and advocates on Twitter for his Brown endorsement, borrowing a line from fellow moderate Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams.
“I gotta tell you, the Twittersphere is not on our side,” Suozzi, who represents parts of northern Nassau County in Congress, said. “But I don’t care about what they say in the tweets; I care about what they say in the streets. Because this man’s support is not just on social media, they’re on Social Security, and they want … to keep buffalo moving forward.”
Meanwhile, a group of Walton supporters rallied around the DSA-endorsed candidate nearby.
“She is exactly the kind of candidate the Republicans and corporate Democrats fear the most,” national director of the Working Families Party Maurice Mitchell said Saturday of Walton, according to The Buffalo News. “It’s no surprise Mayor Brown has launched a sore loser campaign and try to steal India’s victory.”
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