Keisha Lance Bottoms declared victory early Wednesday morning in the Atlanta mayoral runoff with fewer than 800 votes over her opponent, Mary Norwood, who was calling for a recount.
The results from the racially divisive contest secured the city’s streak of electing Black mayors over the past four decades despite reported low voter turnout and some of Atlanta’s top Black politicians supporting Norwood, who is White.
“This is about Atlanta. And what we said from day one is that this is about what we hope this city can be for our children’s children. We stand tonight as one Atlanta. I stand here tonight as my daddy’s daughter and I can say dreams do come true. For those who did not support me, I look forward to working with you as well, because this is still a city for all of us,” Bottoms told supporters just after midnight with the polls closed.
There were several layers to this contest. One of them was voter turnout, which was low in the heavily Black populated city.
But the overshadowing issue was race: A Norwood victory would have ended 40 straight years of Black mayors in Atlanta. This contest was also seen as a referendum on the outgoing mayor, Kasim Reed, who backed Bottoms, a 47-year-old city councilwoman and attorney. Some of the city’s leading Black politicians dislike Reed, whose administration is under the cloud of a federal bribery investigation, speculating that Bottoms would be Reed’s puppet.
Meanwhile, Norwood declined to concede defeat, telling her supporters that she’s waiting until at least Thursday when absentee ballots from the military and provisional ballots are expected to be counted, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I’ve done this before. The next few days are going to be all-hands-on-deck, and all analysis will be done. We are two days away from knowing,” she said.