Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed certainly hasn’t been shy about the race to replace him, but he’s yet to formally endorse any candidates. That could soon change.
The mayor is preparing to formally endorse City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, and he could make that announcement as soon as Saturday, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
Reed’s office declined to comment, but such a move would come as little shock. He’s long given Bottoms his tacit support – and hosted a fundraiser for her earlier this year – even as he’s sharply criticized many of the other contenders in the 13-person race.
With less than five weeks until the vote, Reed’s endorsement would come at a pivotal time. Recent polls show Bottoms in strong contention for the No. 2 spot in what could be a December runoff against Councilwoman Mary Norwood, though a half-dozen other candidates remain in striking distance.
She’s also facing increased scrutiny as she rises in the polls. Peter Aman, the city’s former chief operating officer and another candidate who has cozy ties to Reed, attacked Bottoms on Wednesday in a press conference for accepting what he called questionable donations.
It’s a reference to Bottoms’ pledge this week to return more than $25,000 in contributions from a longtime city contractor whose office was recently raided by the FBI. Her campaign called Aman’s accusations a desperate attempt to gain traction.
Bottoms has been steadily ramping up her campaign for the final stretch. She launched an ad this week advertising herself as the “Democrat for mayor,” an effort to frame the race between her and Norwood, who dubs herself the contest’s only true independent. Rival campaigns say she snapped up about $100,000 worth of airtime this week.
Whether Reed can help sway the election is another question. His supporters point to internal polls that show him with sterling approval ratings. But so far, endorsements from the likes of presidential contenders, prominent civil rights leaders and corporate titans haven’t crystallized this muddled contest.
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