Keisha Lance Bottoms not picked for Biden’s VP

Atlanta mayor could still be a cabinet selection

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate Tuesday, ending months of speculation about whether Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms would join him on the ticket.

For months, Bottoms has been mentioned as one of four African-American woman under consideration and undergoing the rigorous background check associated with the process.

Bottoms, a first-term mayor who four years ago was a member of Atlanta City Council, was the least high profile in the group. Others included Harris, U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and former national security adviser Susan E. Rice.

Bottoms tweeted congratulations to Harris shortly after the announcement, calling Biden’s choice a “fantastic and historic ticket.”

“Now, let’s go win!” the mayor’s tweet concluded.

Bottoms was one of Biden’s earliest and most consistent supporters, campaigning for him in Iowa and regularly appearing on his behalf in spin rooms after Democratic debates. Bottoms has also become a close Biden confidant and he regularly speaks of how impressed he is with her, said former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

“I would assume she would be high on his list for a top position,” Franklin said, adding that Bottoms’ popularity also might make her a candidate for a prominent post in the Democratic Party.

Bottoms is reportedly scheduled to give a speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention next week in Milwaukee, the same night Biden is expected to deliver his acceptance speech from Delaware.

If Bottoms were given a cabinet position, Council President Felicia Moore would assume the role of mayor until the November 2021 election. The city charters spells out the process, and allows the council president to take on mayoral duties if the resignation happens within a year of the next election.

“Certainly I know there’s the possibility for her to be tapped for a cabinet position,” Moore said. “I have certainly thought about it and thought about the things that need to be addressed immediately. I want to be prepared in the event that it happens.”

Moore said Bottoms national rising image has been good for the city.

“I think any time your top elected official gets a national profile it raises the city’s profile,” Moore said.

Bottoms has already served as chair of committee that drafted the Democratic Party’s National Platform. Tucked into the 80-page platform is a provision opposing “partisan power grabs” of public infrastructure projects, language intended to make it more difficult for supporters of a long-standing Republican effort to assert more control over Atlanta’s busy airport.

“That’s what you call political leverage,” Moore said. “And she’s using it.”

Last month, the Washington Post ranked the mayor as Biden’s seventh most likely VP pick, while CNN had her listed as high as second.

Harris was the front-runner in virtually every ranking.

In May, the most powerful African American in the U.S. Congress highlighted Bottoms as a possible choice just after he had helped the former vice president win South Carolina’s primary — a victory that revived Biden’s campaign.

“There is a young lady right there in Georgia who I think would make a tremendous VP candidate,” U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told the London-based Financial Times. “That’s the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

Bottoms, who was one of the first big city mayors to formerly endorse Biden more than a year ago, has consistently downplayed the VP talk.

“I want Vice President Biden to choose the person who he thinks will help him best beat Donald Trump in November, and so if it’s me, I would be honored,” she said in May. “But if it’s a green martian that helps him get over the finish line, then I think that’s who he needs to go with.”

She has also rebuffed criticism that she was more concerned with auditioning for the position than dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest in her city during recent months.

“The Mayor can walk and chew gum at the same time,” her spokesman told the AJC.

Under the city’s charter, the city council president becomes mayor if the mayor resigns within a year or less of the next mayoral election and serves out the remainder of the mayor’s term. Atlanta’s next mayoral election will occur in November, 2021.