Democrats in big push to support Bottoms in Atlanta mayor’s race

Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms turned to high-profile national figures in the Democratic party on Sunday as she scrambles to consolidate support ahead of Tuesday’s runoff.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, both potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, held separate events across Atlanta on Sunday to support Bottoms in her race against fellow Councilwoman Mary Norwood.

At Bottoms’ campaign headquarters Sunday morning, Booker implored Democratic voters to “keep the fire going” in the final days of the race.

“This is a Democrat, someone who is not afraid to talk about her values, and talk about the issues that are important now,” Booker, a New Jersey senator, said in an interview. “She’ll stand up to the president when necessary. She’s not going to soft-step, or soft-pedal, anything.”

The visits are part of a late push by Bottoms’ campaign to rally left-leaning voters to her side in the final days of the race. And they may not be the last: Her supporters are also trying to lure in other big-name national Democrats for a Monday visit.

“We’ve always run this election as if we’re 50 points behind, because it’s all about getting out the vote,” said Bottoms. “I will never take that for granted, and I’m just going to keep pushing until 8 p.m. [when polls in Atlanta and Fulton County close on Tuesday], and then we’ll watch the vote tally come in and celebrate the victory that we already know is ours.”

However, a poll released Friday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News showed Bottoms has work to do: It pegged Norwood, who is running as an independent, to a 6-point lead and showed 42 percent of Democratic voters are backing her campaign, despite efforts from opponents to cast her as a closet Republican.

Harris and Bottoms attended a rally at Park Tavern after the candidates faced off in a live debate Sunday evening, sponsored by the AJC and Channel 2 Action News. The rally was hosted by broadcaster Frank Ski, and City Councilman and former mayoral candidate Kwanza Hall, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, Mayor Kasim Reed, and Sen. Nan Orrock gave brief speeches.

“Cory Booker called me on Friday and said, ‘Do you know what Atlanta means to the United States of America?’” Reed said. “I said, but if you really feel that way, come and tell us.”

Harris then addressed the crowd.

“I’m here to thank you on behalf of my constituents for doing everything you can to ensure that [Bottoms] becomes the next mayor of Atlanta,” Harris said.

The former California attorney general told the crowd that now is a moment when “so-called leaders are sowing division and hate.”

“We must fight on behalf of the ideals and principles that were at play when we wrote the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights,” Harris said.

Harris, often mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, was last in Atlanta in September. At that appearance, she took aim at Trump from the altar of the First Congregational Church of Atlanta on its 150th anniversary, warning that there are “forces of hate and division trying to tear us apart.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta rappers Killer Mike and T.I. took to social media to vouch for Bottoms.

Michael “Killer Mike” Render shared numerous posts Sunday in support of Bottoms. One appeared to call out former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and ex-City Council President Ceasar Mitchell for endorsing Norwood instead of a “product of Black Atlanta.”

“We gotta be a special kinda stupid to not [put Bottoms] … in office as mayor,” Render said on Instagram Sunday.

The Atlanta businessman was also very active during the 2016 presidential campaign and was a big supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders. City Hall honored Render in July with a reception and proclamation for his community work.

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., shared a video of Render talking about his support for Bottoms, and indicated his agreement.

“We can’t afford to let a “Lady Trump” run “OUR CITY,” the entertainer wrote in other posts.

Norwood has come under sustained fire from the Democratic Party of Georgia and Bottoms’ campaign who are depicting her as a “closet Republican.” The state party unleashed a new round of attacks this week, including a TV ad that links her to President Trump.

Norwood has long bristled at the attacks that she’s a closet Republican. She’s said she voted for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and calls herself a “progressive independent” who wants to maintain her political neutrality so she can better work across party lines.

Bottoms and Norwood debate LIVE on Channel 2 just days before Atlanta elects its next mayor.

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