ATLANTA, GA — The race to determine who will be Atlanta’s next mayor was a nail-biter Tuesday night, with City Council member Keisha Lance Bottoms declaring victory in a razor-close race with Mary Norwood. Unofficial results showed Bottoms up by 759 votes, with Norwood planning to ask for a recount.
On a rainy day in Atlanta, Bottoms earned 42,747 votes to 40,612 for Norwood, according to the unofficial results for all Atlanta precincts in Fulton County. But the few Atlanta precincts in DeKalb County pulled the race even closer.
At her victory rally, Bottoms told the crowd that her campaign shows “that dreams do come true. … For those that did not support me, I look forward to working with you as well because this is still a city for all of us.”
Norwood has canceled all appearances for Wednesday to wait for the recount, the AJC reports.
As Bottoms grabbed a slim lead in the race about 11 p.m., Democratic Party of Georgia chief Dubose Porter told the crowd of supporters that “beyond being the most qualified person in the race, she, Keisha, is the standard bearer to preserve the great legacy of this city,” Porter said, according to AJC.com. “She understands Atlanta because she is Atlanta. Atlanta is a Democratic city and Keisha Lance Bottoms is a fine Democrat. Which is more than I can say about her opponent.”
The results tilting toward Bottoms came as something of a surprise to observers, based on polls which had consistently shown Norwood running several points ahead of Bottoms in the race. But, based on an early look at polling results, Norwood underperformed in neighborhoods like Midtown and Old Fourth Ward, where she was predicted to perform well.
Norwood had been endorsed by five of her former opponents and had the backing of local law enforcement and other unions, which were expected to be big on a day when getting out the vote would be a key factor. But in the end, Reed’s endorsement — as well as efforts to tie Norwood to President Trump and other Republicans in predominantly Democratic Atlanta — appeared to have paid off.
A Democrat and political ally of Reed’s, Bottoms had garnered the most votes in the Nov. 7 general election — more than 27 percent in a field of 10 active candidates. Norwood came in second with nearly 22 percent.
In Georgia, a runoff between the top two candidates is held if no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
Norwood had presented herself as an independent-minded leader who has spent the past two decades working for her constituents and their neighborhoods. She narrowly lost to Reed in 2009, falling just over 700 votes short in a runoff.
Bottoms highlighted her council work on issues such as pension reform, re-opening city recreation centers and supporting equal pay for female city employees.
In “The City Too Busy To Hate,” there was also a racial component to the race. Norwood would have become Atlanta’s first white mayor in more than four decades. Maynard Jackson — after whom Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is partly named — was elected Atlanta’s first black mayor in 1974.
Bottoms, 47, holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida A&M University and a law degree from Georgia State University. She is a former judge and served as director of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority prior to her time on the council.
Photo: In this Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 file photo, Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms talks to the press after voting at a polling site in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)