Borders takes gloves off in mayor's race

On the day she officially became a candidate for mayor, a new Lisa Borders emerged.

She calls it the “Velvet Hammer,” and brought it out in response to what she says has been favorable coverage of her chief rival Mary Norwood.

“The gloves are off because I’m fed up,” Borders said. “I have had enough of being nice. I am tired of people characterizing me. I am tired of people sharing misinformation.”

Tuesday was a big day for Borders as she officially accepted the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and wrote a $4,425 check to register for the race. It comes at a time when her campaign was seemingly at a crossroads.

Empowered by the key endorsement and her official start of the race, the calm, measured Borders — a product of her business pedigree — was gone. In her place was a fiery Borders who has changed the tenor of her race to go after Norwood.

On Tuesday, she wasn’t angry, but forceful and direct. Borders said Norwood has neglected her duties as a councilwoman to run for mayor. She specifically cites Norwood’s “no” vote on a tax increase that ultimately ended employee furloughs. The budget passed 8-7.

“You’ve asked me what I would do as mayor if a city employee wasn’t performing? And I have responded that I would fire that person. Unfortunately, in this situation, I can’t fire [Norwood],” said Borders. “So I’m asking voters to fire her, not to promote her [to the office of Mayor]. ”

Norwood called Borders’ comments an unfounded political attack.

“If she thinks that the administration has been giving out good, accurate and up-to-date financial information during the time she has been president of council, she hasn’t been paying attention,” Norwood said. “We demonstrably didn’t know how much money the city really had and how much money the city really owed ... just like we don’t know now. Our finances are a mess, and the voters expect the next mayor to come in and fix it, not to try to disguise the problem.”

Borders is trying to rebound from a tough week.

A memo surfaced last week calling for the election of a black mayor and implying the endorsement of Borders, who quickly denounced it as racist. The memo was also seen as an attack on Norwood. And while Borders has been holding second behind Norwood in the polls, Sen. Kasim Reed (D-Atlanta) released data showing that he is gaining on her. The poll — conducted by Cornel Belcher, one of the few black pollsters in Washington, who also worked on the Obama campaign — showed while Reed is still in third place, he trails Borders by only three points.

“The race is much tighter and closer than has been previously reported and these numbers reflect that,” said Reese McCranie, Reed’s deputy communications director. “Sen. Reed and Borders are in a statistical tie.”

Insider Advantage polls have continued to place Reed in the single digits and show stronger numbers for Borders. Borders brushed off the data.

“I am focused on winning,” she said. “I am not looking at what anybody behind me is doing. I am not looking backward. Period.”