Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he's "strongly considering" a run for New York's 26th Congressional District.
"I have looked at it based on the reasons that Congressman Higgins is indicating that he's stepping down in Congress," Brown said after an event Friday. "His frustration with where the institution has gone, the lack of people working together, being able to get things done, the extreme left, the extreme right that are literally pulling our country apart. I'm a centrist, I have a track record of working with people of different backgrounds, coming to resolutions to problems to get things done and if I can bring that to Congress and help heal that institution and bring our country together that is the basis that I am looking at this. That's the basis that I'm considering it."
New York's congressional seats are all up for reelection next year. Brown entering the race would mean a Democratic primary with Kennedy, and likely other potential candidates still mulling their options. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, state Sen. Sean Ryan, state Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, former congressional candidate Nate McMurray and former Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton have all been mentioned as potential candidates. Brown lost the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary to Walton, but ultimately defeated her with a write-in campaign in the general election to secure his fifth term as mayor.
A special election will need to take place next year to determine who will finish the final months of Higgins' term. Candidates for special elections are designated by political parties. Brown didn't rule out pushing to be selected for the special election.
"I'm looking at that. Haven't made a firm decision, it's something that I'm looking at," Brown said. "Like Congressman Higgins, very concerned about the direction that things have gone in Washington, D.C. Very concerned about the acrimony in Congress and people not being able to get things done."
Since the racist mass shooting at a Tops grocery store last year, Brown has traveled several times to Washington to speak out on reforming gun laws, an issue he'll likely incorporate into any campaign.
"All over this country, mayors, Democrat and Republican, people, Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native are calling for sensible gun reform. They're calling for an assault weapons ban," Brown said. "Congress can't move forward on that because people can't resolve their differences and work through issues. That's got to change. It's damaging our country. So based on issues like that, I think it's important for me to look at the potential of a run to replace Congressman Higgins."
When it comes to potentially challenging Kennedy, Brown said it's not personal, adding that the two are close friends. Brown says he thinks Kennedy would do a great job in Congress.