Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed formally endorsed City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms in the crowded race to succeed him, saying Wednesday he will make stops at 40 barber shops and beauty salons over the weekend to support her.
Reed made the announcement on V-103 early Wednesday; the AJC previously reported the endorsement was in the works.
The move comes 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 early voting in the Nov. 7 race set to begin on Monday, Reed’s endorsement comes 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 last 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 last 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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