Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Wednesday endorsed City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms in the crowded race to replace him, formal backing that's come after months of tacit support for her candidacy.
Reed endorsed his longtime ally during a lively interview on V-103. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported an endorsement was in the works, and his formal support comes as little shock as the mayor previously held a fundraiser for Bottoms.
Reed said he would make stops at 40 barber shops and beauty salons over the weekend with early voting for the Nov. 7 race starting on Monday.
“I want folks to know that I am going to do everything I can between now and Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 to see that Keisha Lance Bottoms becomes my successor, that a woman becomes the 60th mayor of Atlanta,” Reed said.
For months, Reed has bashed a number of the candidates in the race, saying he was protecting his legacy from contenders who criticized him first. But he showered Bottoms with praise, even as he insisted he had not endorsed her.
So far, major endorsements haven't yet helped the candidates separate themselves in the contest, nor have high-profile endorsements helped clear the field.
Councilwoman Mary Norwood is leading in the polls. Recent polls have Bottoms in contention for the No. 2 spot in a likely December runoff.
Reed also credited Bottoms’ leadership on pension reform, re-opening city recreation centers and supporting equal pay for women who work for the city.
“It is a privilege to work with Mayor Reed and to share in his great accomplishments for Atlanta,’ Bottoms said in a statement.
Reed also has friendly relations with his former chief operating officer, Peter Aman, another contender in the race. Aman and Bottoms recently started taking shots at one another after a period of détente.
Aman slammed Bottoms for donations she received by people tied to the PRAD Group, a city vendor whose Sandy Springs offices were recently raided by the FBI. Bottoms said she returned more than $25,000 in donations and also called for stronger safeguards in the city's purchasing program. Bottoms said Aman's signature was on some of the city contracts awarded to the PRAD Group. He said he had nothing to do with the procurement process.
Bottoms, meanwhile, has stepped up her attacks on Norwood and pitched herself in ads as the Democrat running for mayor.
Reed courted controversy in 2015 when he nominated Bottoms, an attorney, to run the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority. The authority’s board approved her appointment at the time for the $135,000-a-year job, which she stepped down from earlier this year.
Vincent Fort, then a state senator and a frequent critic of Reed’s who is now a candidate for mayor, sought a legal opinion about Bottoms’ appointment to the authority while also serving as a council member.
According to an opinion drafted by an attorney with the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel at the time, the office found no law that prohibited Bottoms from holding both positions. But the posting presented the potential for conflicts of interest.
Bottoms recused herself in votes on authority matter while she held both roles.
Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.
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