Four years ago in the Democratic primary for Rochester mayor, Lovely Warren was the underdog. The polls showed it. They were wrong.
Four years after that upset and her subsequent victory in the general election, Democratic voters again put their trust in Warren as she easily beat challengers James Sheppard and Rachel Barnhart in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.
Warren won with about 62 percent of the vote, to just under 22 percent for Sheppard and just under 16 percent for Barnhart.
In Warren's victory speech, the mayor touted the need for her party's unity, especially in the face of the Republican presidential administration.
"It is more important now more than ever that we are prepared to carry that bastion of hope here in the city of Rochester. We can only do that if the Democratic Party is strong and united," Warren told the crowd gathered at the Strathallan Hotel.
Historically, in city primaries, winning the Democratic primary equals a guaranteed victory in November’s general election. But this year’s mayoral race is different, as Warren will face a challenge from four candidates, although Sheppard says he will not actively campaign on his remaining lines.
Here’s how November’s mayoral race is currently shaping up:
- Warren is the Democratic and Women’s Equality party candidate.
- Tony Micciche will appear on the Republican and Reform party lines.
- Alex White is the Green Party candidate.
- Sheppard is the Working Families and Independence Party candidate.
- Lori Thomas announced her candidacy in April and is a write-in candidate
Sheppard says he will not actively run on his remaining lines as a Working Families and Independence Party candidate. "It’s very important that as a Democratic party, that’s why we have a primary process. The process has rules and I accept the outcome and I'm willing to move forward to make sure our party comes together for the future," Sheppard said on Tuesday night.
The loss was a blow to Barnhart, as her mayoral hopes hinged on winning the primary. While Warren and Sheppard both have minor party endorsements, Barnhart didn’t receive any. Barnhart says she will not seek a third party line in November, but it’s “probably likely” that she’ll run for office again.
“I'd really like to find the right opportunity,” Barnhart said. “What we found in this race was that I was the second choice for Lovely Warren voters and the second choice for Jim Sheppard voters. No one had a problem with me; they liked me tremendously, and they'd like to vote for me in the future. We'll keep all options open.”
This year is the first time a Republican has run for mayor of Rochester since 2005.
Here's video from the Warren campaign headquarters by WXXI's Martin Kaufman: