UPDATED: 3:25 p.m. ET —
Keisha Lance Bottoms has reportedly declined an ambassadorship from Joe Biden in what some saw as a snub to the Atlanta mayor who has been one of the president-elect’s most loyal supporters over the course of his election campaign.
Charles Bethea, a reporter with the New Yorker, on Friday tweeted the report he attributed to “sources,” setting off a firestorm of emotion over an already hotly debated conversation regarding Biden and his senior leadership picks.
Bottoms’ spokesperson has not commented on the report, but a spokesperson for Biden’s transition team tweeted at Bethea and denied the report.
“This is not true,” Sean Savett quote-tweeted Bethea Friday afternoon. “No decisions on ambassadorships outside of UN have been made.”
Bethea, an Atlanta resident who covers politics, local media and the American South, didn’t back down.
“Standing by my sourcing on this,” he replied on Twitter.
Over the summer it was revealed that Bottoms was one of the contenders to be Biden’s vice-presidential running mate. That role was ultimately filled by Sen. Kamala Harris, who is now the vice president-elect. In August, after she was passed over for the role, she continued her support by stumping for Biden at the Democratic National Convention, where she delivered a stirring speech on the legacy of civil rights leaders in America.
When the Biden-Harris ticket won the presidential election, it was reported that Bottoms would likely be considered to lead Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Bottoms was seen a smart choice to oversee HUD due to her efforts in reforming public housing locally. In Atlanta, Bottoms made public housing a policy priority, proposing a $1 billon initiative to improve housing across the metropolitan area, according to The New York Times. She also serves as the Chair of the Community Development and Housing Committee for the United States Conference of Mayors.
However, Rep. Marcia Fudge was announced as Biden’s pick for HUD this week.
While Biden’s SBA choice has yet to be announced, the response across social media to Friday’s report was split between suggesting Bottoms was being snubbed and Bottoms should have taken the role (if the report is true). To be sure, an ambassadorship provides an opportunity to strengthen diplomacy while also benefitting the individual’s political career with global visibility.
There was suspicion on social media that Bottoms hasn’t been considered a contender in Biden’s cabinet or for his closest advisers because he’s ensuring Harris has a leg up to claim his seat after he is done with his term. Biden, who just turns 78 a few weeks ago, would be 82 if he decides to run for a second term.
Bottoms has backed Democratic leadership in Atlanta by openly voicing support for COVID-19 measures similar to nation-wide practices that the incoming presidential administration has pledged to enforce once Biden takes office. The Atlanta mayor also works to voice her discontent with claims of voter suppression, as an important Jan. 5 Senate runoff in her home state stands to change the tide of Congress.
We’ll have to see if her story ends here or if there is another option at play.