Controversial Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she doesn’t want to run for re-election, despite polls showing her easily winning.
In 2017, Bottoms won by 800 votes. But a serious cyberattack during her first year in office, and the subsequent Black Lives Matter riots and protests, convinced her that it was time to go.
There’s been speculation that there are other reasons for her not to run. Rumors of a family crisis and a coming scandal in her administration have observers looking for an alternate reason. But Bottoms led Atlanta during one of the most turbulent times since the Civil War and with the pandemic coming on top of the riots, she may have felt she didn’t have anything left in the tank.
During the news conference, Bottoms said that she had been considering her exit from the mayor’s race for “a very long time” and that she knew as early as her first year in office that she might not seek a second term, citing these issues among others.
Bottoms also served as a surrogate for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign from its early months and was later floated as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet secretary — a position she said she turned down to complete her four years as mayor. Before announcing that she would not run again, Bottoms hosted a fundraiser with Biden that she said raised more than a half million dollars.
It’s probable that one or two cabinet members may leave shortly after the new year. If that happens, Bottoms would be at the top of a lot of lists for a cabinet position. She’d be a good fit for Biden, especially since her diversity credentials are impeccable.
“If the race for mayor were held today, I would win this race without a runoff,” Bottoms said, citing internal polling. “Just because you can do it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you should do it. I can be mayor again. But there is a reason that there are elections every four years.”
Her departure from the race is sure to open it up to a wide range of prospects, including a handful of city council members who have already toyed with the idea of running or have launched campaigns. City Council President Felicia Moore has announced her intention to run and former mayor Kasim Reed is rumored to be exploring a bid.
Violent crime is on the rise in Atlanta. Atlanta police reported a 60 percent spike in homicides over last year and the beleaguered police department has had its hands tied by “reforms.” Whoever the next mayor of Atlanta will no doubt be forced to address the growing street violence.
It’s not an enviable job.