The Jolt: 5 takeaways from runoff night in Georgia

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Andre Dickens will be the 61st mayor of Atlanta after winning Tuesday’s runoff over Council President Felicia Moore in a rout-- 64% to 36%.

The Georgia Tech grad was born in Atlanta, raised in Adamsville. He went on from Tech to get an MPA from Georgia State, become a church deacon, work in Atlanta’s booming tech industry and serve two terms on the city council.

It doesn’t get much more ATL than that.

Once declared the winner Tuesday night, Dickens laid out a sunny vision for his hometown at his victory night party at the Gathering Spot.

“I say we are full of potential; I say we are full of talent; I say we are full of opportunity, we’re full of leaders….we are full of hope for Atlanta’s future and I cannot be more proud of this moment right here!”

Along with Dickens’ win, when he dominated Moore in every corner of the city except the Northside/ Buckhead triangle, Election Night in Georgia produced loads of other headlines and takeaways with clues about the city’s changing politics and the state’s:

1. Democratic comeback-- After a lackluster general Election Night in November, Democratic leaning candidates roared back Tuesday to flip at least seven local races across Georgia Tuesday, and fended off Republican challengers in Brunswick and Forest Park.

In Warner Robins, voters elected LaRhonda Patrick to be the first woman and first Black mayor to lead the city. Patrick defeated incumbent Mayor Randy Toms two weeks after Toms announced the city owes $800,000 to the IRS because of years of inaccurate filings and ignored warnings.

2. A Democratic Socialist. South Fulton City Councilman Khalid Kamau ousted incumbent Mayor Bill Edwards. Kamau is, indeed, a prominent democratic socialist, with a rap campaign jingle “Black on purpose.”

His campaign focused on his support for measures to decriminalize marijuana, ban high-speed police chases, end no-knock warrants and replace Columbus Day with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

“His vision is to build a real-life Wakanda that empowers its citizens’ success like legendary African-American cities of Greenwood (Tulsa), Oklahoma or Rosewood, Florida,” his website says.

3. Atlanta’s multiracial leadership. Along with Andre Dickens’ victory, nonprofit executive Doug Shipman appeared to have clinched victory Tuesday night to become the next city council president.

The last time Atlanta had a Black mayor and white council president was in 2004 under Mayor Shirley Franklin and Council President Cathy Woolard.

Liliana Bakhtiari also won an Atlanta city council seat to become the first LGBTQ Muslim elected in Georgia and, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only non-binary councilmember of a major U.S. City.

4. Women at the top step aside. With the election of Dickens and likely Shipman victory, Atlanta will also go from having two women as mayor and city council president to having two men. The council itself will continue to have several women serving.

5. Sylvia wins again. Our colleague Maya Prabhu notes (from her California getaway!) that with Dickens’ victory, Atlanta has elected three mayors in a row with moms named Sylvia.

One of our eagle-eyed readers points out a bonus tidbit: Moore’s defeat continues an epic recent curse of city council presidents failing to win Atlanta’s top job. Lisa Borders, Cathy Woolard, Robb Pitts, Marvin Arrington — all ran unsuccessful campaigns for mayor.


On the 2022 front, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker has included a line about fighting to protect the Constitution in just about every stump speech we’ve heard.

Which is why we had some questions when we came across a June 2020 interview with Donald Trump Jr. when Walker seemed to suggest adding amendments to the Constitution.

“Is it not time to put an amendment on the Constitution? The Constitution was great back then. But I think it may be time to put some amendments on some of the Constitution.”

Asked what Walker meant by that, his campaign spokeswoman Mallory Blount said the idea was, “Said in jest while spit balling with friends on a podcast.”

“Unlike Washington Democrats, Herschel believes that the U.S. Constitution is the greatest governing document ever written and will fight to protect it,” she said.


Dr. Rich McCormick has made the switch, as expected, announcing that he will run in the GOP primary for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2022.

McCormick narrowly lost to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux in the 7th District in 2020, and had initially signed up for a rematch. But the E.R. doc and Marine veteran changed his mind after the General Assembly approved a new map that made the 7th District so Democratic it will become nearly impossible for a Republican to win.

He’ll now face a crowded GOP primary field that includes Jake Evans and Meagan Hanson in the soon-to-be conservative stronghold that will stretch from the northwest Atlanta ‘burbs all the way through Dawson County.

In announcing the switch, he also said he has endorsements from 28 members of Congress, including five from Georgia, for his new 6th District race.


Over in that newly drawn 7th District, Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson has endorsed U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux for reelection, choosing her over U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath.

McBath announced she’ll challenge Bourdeaux next year in the 7th District after Republican leaders redrew her current 6th District boundaries to be significantly more conservative in 2022.

Hendrickson’s nod is a big get for Bourdeaux. She’s the first Black woman to lead the commission and cited her closing working relationship with the congresswoman, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of voters in the newly drawn 7th District reside in Gwinnett County.


President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock that to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to analyze racial and ethnic disparities in access to VA benefits.

The bill had bipartisan support and a relatively easy course through the legislative process. The Senate passed it by unanimous consent in August, and the House signed off via a voice vote last month.

Warnock attended an event at the White House Tuesday where Biden signed the bill into law. Afterward, the Georgia senator released this statement:

“This law pushes us one step closer to fully understanding the VA’s standard of care so we can identify and address the systemic challenges facing some of our veterans, and ensure that all our veterans are receiving the equal and just care they earned in courageous service to our country.”


How does a family newspaper use respectable language to write about the very ugly fight brewing between U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and a fellow GOP congresswoman? Very carefully.

The Wall Street Journal waded into the tricky MTG grudge match waters Wednesday morning with an article trying to describe the vitriolic war of words between Green and South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace.

After Mace criticized a fellow Republican for joking that a Muslim Democratic member of Congress “wasn’t wearing a (suicide bomb) backpack, so I wasn’t worried,” Greene called Mace, the “trash of the GOP conference.”

(Mace is also a single mom and was the first female to graduate from The Citadel.)

The Journal writes what happened next: “In response to the tweet, Ms. Mace called Ms. Taylor Greene a common pejorative for nuts, using the bat, poop and clown-face emojis.”


One more happy Democrat Tuesday night was state Rep. Bee Nguyen, who will pick up Andre Dickens’ victorious campaign manager, Maria Banjo, for her own secretary of state campaign heading into 2022.

“A Nguyen Nguyen!” she Tweeted after the results were announced.


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