Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms won’t run for reelection

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In a stunning announcement Thursday night, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she will not run for reelection this year.

Bottoms announced she will not seek a second term during a private call with friends, staffers and allies, according to two people who were on the call and several others who were told about it. She released a statement and video around 10:30 p.m. elaborating on her decision and her record as Atlanta’s 60th mayor.

ExplorePHOTOS: A look back at Mayor Bottoms' term
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“As (husband) Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us, it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as mayor,” said Bottoms, who has scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference Friday at City Hall.

The move is a shocking reversal for Bottoms, a mayor with a rising national profile who had launched her reelection campaign and held a fundraising event featuring President Joe Biden. The decision creates a wide-open mayor’s race this year, and is likely to open the door for a slew of new candidates.

The March fundraiser with Biden, which was the first headlined by the president since taking office, raised over $500,000 for Bottoms’ reelection bid — a sign of her strong financial standing and national political connections.

ExploreMedia, Biden endorsement raises Atlanta Mayor Bottoms’ national profile

Although widely popular, Bottoms has received criticism over her handling of public safety following a rise in violent crime in the city.

“People are entitled to their opinions, but don’t ever question whether or not I care,” she said at a press conference this week focused on crime. “My love for this city is deeper than probably many others standing here because my family goes back 100 years in the city. So whether I am mayor of this city or not, I will do everything that I can possibly do to keep our communities safe.”

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

City Council President Felicia Moore and Dentons attorney Sharon Gay launched campaigns for mayor earlier this year, and Councilman Antonio Brown could also run.

Four years ago, 11 candidates vied to replace two-term Mayor Kasim Reed, a race that cost over $10 million.

Rumors have swirled that Reed is considering running again for his old post. He said in an interview on KISS 104.1 FM radio last week that he was not planning to run, but it’s unclear if Bottoms’ announcement will change that decision.

Bottoms wrote in the letter she is “not yet certain of what the future holds,” and she is confident she could win if she ran for reelection.

“It is my sincere hope that over the next several months, a candidate for mayor will emerge whom the people of Atlanta may entrust to lead our beloved city to its next and best chapter,” she wrote.

Bottoms, who served on the City Council for eight years, was elected in 2017 in a razor-thin runoff against Mary Norwood.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Her national profile rose last year after she was seen as a possible contender to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential candidate. After his election, advisers said she was offered a Cabinet post, but turned it down to continue serving as mayor.

During her tenure, Bottoms heralded her administration’s work on social justice and affordable housing issues. Months into her term, City Hall was hit with a massive cyber attack, all while a federal corruption investigation into members of Reed’s administration widened.

Her term was also marked by the coronavirus pandemic and widespread protests over racism and police brutality. She received widespread praise for remarks she made last May after demonstrations turned violent in downtown Atlanta.