Georgia’s Democratic establishment starts to rally behind Bottoms in Atlanta mayor race

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Georgia's Democratic establishment is stepping up its efforts to rally supporters behind Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms' campaign for Atlanta mayor, a technically nonpartisan race that is taking on more partisan undertones as the December runoff nears.

A half-dozen current and former Democratic lawmakers from within the city’s limits endorsed Bottoms on Monday, each mentioning her party affiliation or remarking that she shares common ideological values as reason for their support.

"I have known Keisha Lance Bottoms for a long time, and when she says we are partners I am telling the truth," said former state Sen. Jason Carter, the 2014 Democratic candidate for governor. "The City of Atlanta is not going to embrace someone who stands with Donald Trump."

Democrats are trying to consolidate behind Bottoms ahead of the Dec. 5 runoff with Councilwoman Mary Norwood, an independent candidate who her opponents have tried to paint as a “closet Republican” since her narrow 2009 defeat to Kasim Reed.

Norwood has staked her campaign on her vow to work across party lines as she tries to appeal to north Atlanta conservatives and other voters uncomfortable with Bottoms’ ties to Reed. She calls herself a “progressive independent” and has blasted Bottoms for pushing “inaccurate” information.

“She votes for the person, not just the party. She voted for Barack Obama twice and Hillary Clinton last year for president,” said her campaign spokesman Billy Linville. “She is pro-choice and was one of the first city officials to support marriage equality.”

The endorsements Monday are among a spate of signs that different factions of the Democratic Party are starting to align behind Bottoms.

Reed, who often had a testy relationship with Carter, endorsed the councilwoman weeks ago. And the Democratic Party of Georgia, led by former House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, has steadily stepped up its campaign against Norwood.

Still unknown is how other Democratic leaders will play in the race. Former Gov. Roy Barnes backed former state Sen. Vincent Fort's unsuccessful mayoral bid, and both have so far stayed out of the runoff. So have Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans, the party's two contenders for governor. And Cathy Woolard, the third-place finisher in the Nov. 8 vote, is holding an event next week to help hash out her decision.

Carter was joined by four other veteran Democrats at Monday’s announcement: Former state Rep. Kathy Ashe, state Reps. David Dreyer and Pat Gardner, and state Sen. Elena Parent. State Rep. Park Cannon also announced her endorsement, though was not at the event.

“When I go to decide who I’m going to vote for, I look for someone who holds the values that I hold dear,” said Gardner. “I have watched Keisha Lance Bottoms with a steady hand. And that’s what we need for the city.”