Even as Keisha Lance Bottoms declared victory in Atlanta’s mayor race, her rival Mary Norwood called for a recount and told her supporters she’s not conceding the race yet.
“We just don’t know,” she said early Wednesday as returns showed her trailing Bottoms by about 700 votes. “This is very close. It is not over yet.”
Norwood said she’s waiting for absentee ballots from military, provisional ballots that won’t be tabulated until Thursday and returns from several precincts in DeKalb County that haven’t yet been tallied.
“I’ve done this before. The next few days are going to be all-hands-on-deck, and all analysis will be done,” she said. “We are two days away from knowing.”
Norwood lost the Atlanta race for mayor to Kasim Reed in 2009 by about 700 votes. Eight years later, she trailed in her comeback bid to Bottoms, Reed’s hand-picked successor, by roughly the same margin.
For Norwood, who was pummeled by attacks that she was a closet Republican in both contests, it could be a brutal reckoning.
She had braced herself for the GOP labeling for years – she called herself a progressive independent who backed Democratic presidential contenders – and her campaign hoped changing demographics would make her the first white mayor in Atlanta in 44 years.
And she relentlessly pitched this campaign as a marked contrast from the 2009 race.
“It’s an entirely different campaign, and the city is entirely different. I’ve enjoyed having the breadth of support, including a lot of my opponents and two former mayors,” she said Tuesday as the votes were being tallied. “I mean, what an amazing coalition and collaborative effort.”
She cobbled together an alliance that included former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, one of the state’s highest-profile Democrats, and many of the also-rans in the November race. They include third-place finisher Cathy Woolard, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and ex-city aide Peter Aman.
Bottoms relied on Reed’s network to help her in the first round of the vote, but she leaned on high-profile Democratic figures – and the state Democratic party – to fuel her turnout in the second round as she distanced herself from Reed.
U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris boosted her campaign over the weekend, calling on Democrats to defend a deep-blue city. At Sunday’s WSB debate, Bottoms branded Norwood’s endorsers petty members of the “hate Kasim Reed” club.
“For those who did not support me, I look forward to working with you as well,” Bottoms said, “because this is still a city for all of us.”
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