Atlanta Hasn’t Had a White Mayor Since 1974, and Tuesday’s Mayoral Race Is So Close That It’s Headed for a Recount

Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood (David Goldman/AP Images)
Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood (David Goldman/AP Images)

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.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.


Rooo sez BISH PLZ

AP also called it for Bottoms.

Given the tenor both of the race (npi) and the country rn, I’d be real curious to know

a) who’s going to be in charge of that recount and

b) who’s going to be in the room when they do it.

Also, this:

Georgia’s Attorney General Won’t Defend State in Voting-Machine-Wiping Case

There seems to be a whole lot of creeping already down there in Hotlanta, so I’d keep a real close eye on things here on out if I were at all invested in the outcome of this race for “country going forward (as opposed to backwards)“ reasons.

Not that we don’t all have a whole lot else to do; I’m just saying.