Vincent Fort's 2017 mayoral bid gets boost from Bernie Sanders

Fort, a state senator representing an Atlanta district, has made no secret that he's trying to model his bid to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed on Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign. He's called for the decriminalization of marijuana, free tuition at Atlanta city colleges and other left-leaning initiatives.

Now he has the full-throated backing of Sanders, who said Fort paid a "hefty price" for endorsing his presidential bid in February.

"The establishment in Georgia did everything they could to exact their revenge on Senator Fort – they even recruited a primary opponent to run against him in the last election cycle as punishment," wrote Sanders. "They failed to take him down then – and now that he’s running to be the next Mayor of Atlanta, we expect the entrenched political establishment and their billionaire backers to do everything in their power to defeat him."

Fort is among at least a half-dozen politicians in the running for mayor, a field that also includes several former and current councilmembers. It is his second big endorsement; earlier former Gov. Roy Barnes went public with his support for Fort by hosting a fundraiser for him.

The Barnes decision may have prompted a countermove by Reed, who has long been at odds with Fort. The mayor soon sent a "save the date" for a fundraiser for Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, signaling support for her mayoral bid.

Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Sanders in Georgia's March 1 primary, though his mailing list and fundraising power makes his endorsement a powerful tool for Fort. Sanders' plea was also particularly timely. The legislative session starts on Monday and once it begins, Fort, the No. 2 Democrat in the state Senate, cannot raise any cash for the race until it ends in late March or early April.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.