The 2017 campaign for mayor of Buffalo officially kicks off on March 5 when Mark J.F. Schroeder announces his candidacy.
Schroeder, the city comptroller, said Monday he will convene his supporters at the Historic Lodge, 212 Cazenovia St., to begin his Democratic primary challenge to three-term incumbent Mayor Byron W. Brown.
“We’re looking to make that an official announcement for friends and people from across the city,” he said, “and it will be done in a very comprehensive way.”
Schroeder’s event is expected to highlight the broad base of support he claims for a campaign most observers say faces a steep, uphill climb. The well-entrenched Brown enjoys a host of financial and organizational advantages, and has been promised the Democratic endorsement from Erie County Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.
Schroeder starts from his South Buffalo base following months of visiting organizations and events throughout the city, including almost weekly attendance at services in African-American churches ‑ the heart of the mayor’s base.
“This is going to be a very comprehensive, professional way to lay out our plan and our message,” he said about his March 5 event. “And right after, we’ll have things going on for the next four to six weeks, unlike some campaigns that just seem to fold up for a while.
“We picked this date so we would be ready to brand our message and articulate it fully, including on social media,” he added. “We’re working behind the scenes right now.”
Schroeder will also make a major public splash on March 11 when he serves as grand marshal of the Old First Ward Parade as part of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Hoping history is on his side, Schroeder enters the race recognizing that only the late James D. Griffin, who retired in 1993, has won four terms as mayor. But his March 5 announcement is expected to home in on some of the worst big-city poverty in America that plagues some parts of Buffalo.
As a result, Schroeder is also expected to say Brown’s administration has ignored Buffalo’s neighborhoods at the expense of downtown and waterfront development – a charge the mayor has already said he will vigorously contest.
Still uncertain is the mayor’s status with his traditional allies in the Conservative Party. He has run on the Democratic and Conservative lines throughout his political career, but now also heads New York State Democrats at the request of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Brown says he sees no conflict and is “very open” to accepting the Conservative Party nod again. But Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo has said that, while he continues to admire Brown’s fiscal conservatism, he is troubled by the mayor’s loyalty to Democratic stalwarts like Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.
“That will be a major hurdle for him,” Lorigo said.
That means Schroeder could ultimately gain the Conservative line in November, and pose a significant threat in the general election, as did Griffin in 1977 when he won with just the Conservative line.
Erie County GOP Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy has said no Republican has yet approached him about running for mayor this year.