On Wednesday morning the race for Atlanta’s mayor was still too close to call, but that didn’t stop candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms from claiming victory after Tuesday’s runoff election.
“I am just in awe of what God is able to do,” she told cheering supporters early Wednesday at an Atlanta hotel, the Associated Press reports. “I’m so honored to be your 60th mayor.”
According to the newswire, the margin is still too close to call, with fewer than 800 votes separating Bottoms, who is black, from Mary Norwood, who is white. Bottoms leads Norwood by a less than 1 percent margin, so close that Norwood has already asked for a recount.
If Norwood, 65, were to lose this race, this would be the second time that she’s come within an ant’s eyelash of becoming Atlanta’s mayor. In 2009, Norwood lost a closely contested race to Kasim Reed by just 714 votes.
If Bottoms, 47, is elected, she will continue a tradition of Atlanta as a stronghold of African-American mayors, which has not had a white mayor since 1974. The winner of the race will succeed Reed, who has already endorsed Bottoms.
Here’s how the New York Times explains this hotly contested race, which has proved to be as much about racial politics as it is about policies.
While the mayoral race in Atlanta is formally nonpartisan, Ms. Bottoms made her political allegiance plain: She was a Democrat whose beliefs aligned with those of a growing city known as something of a Southern bastion for liberal politics. Over the weekend, two of the nation’s most influential Democrats, Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, visited Atlanta to campaign for Ms. Bottoms.
Democrats also relentlessly targeted Ms. Norwood, an independent, as “Mary the Republican” and said that her ties to Republicans, as well as her refusal to endorse the Democratic candidate who lost a bitterly contested special election for Congress in June, made her too conservative for Atlanta.
Yet there were relatively few conspicuous policy differences between Ms. Bottoms and Ms. Norwood as they competed to lead Atlanta, a city of about 473,000 people. Like other anchors of major metropolitan areas, Atlanta is struggling with severe income inequality, the perils of gentrification and gridlock for its commuters.
CNN notes that the votes will have to be certified before they can be recounted Saturday.