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Recount Likely In Close Atlanta Mayoral Race

Dec 6, 2017
Originally published on December 6, 2017 11:36 am

Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET

Atlanta has voted for a new mayor, but Tuesday's election still leaves questions about who she will be.

In an exceedingly close race, Keisha Lance Bottoms came out just 759 votes ahead of her opponent, Mary Norwood. Bottoms claimed victory early Wednesday morning, but Norwood isn't conceding. The race looks headed for a recount.

As of 10 a.m. ET, the race is still too close to call, The Associated Press reports.

In her victory speech, Bottoms, 47, reminded supporters that she had come from a modest public school in the city's mostly black Westside.

"And so for all the little girls out there who need somebody to believe that you're better than your circumstances. I need you all to remember that black girl magic is real," she said to cheers.

But as Stephannie Stokes reports from member station WABE in Atlanta, the crowd at Norwood's election party was energized too.

Norwood, 65, told supporters that the difference in the number of votes between the two candidates was within 1 percent, small enough to ask for a recount.

"So this is very close," Norwood said as the crowd responded, "It's not over!"

"You are right. It's not over yet," she said.

Bottoms and Norwood stood for Tuesday's runoff after emerging from a crowded field of candidates last month.

The tense race has been charged by race and political identity.

As Stephannie reports:

"Bottoms, who is black, faced Norwood, who is white. In a city that's had black mayors since 1974, Norwood has had to defend herself. And so did her supporters. Shirley Franklin, Atlanta's first black female mayor, addressed the issue directly in an ad for Norwood.

Norwood also faced questions about her party loyalty. She identifies as an independent. But Georgia Democrats, who supported Bottoms, accused Norwood of being a closet conservative."

One campaign ad suggested Norwood is a Republican and asked whether the next mayor of Atlanta should "be from the party of Trump?"

This is not the first time Norwood has trailed in a tight race for Atlanta's mayor.

In 2009, "current Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed defeated Norwood by a similarly narrow margin," Ezra Morris of member station GPB reports.

Morris continues:

"Bottoms, who is black and the chosen successor of Reed, is widely seen as a continuation of the black political machine that has dominated Atlanta politics since the mid-1970s. Norwood, who is white, would be Atlanta's first white female mayor.

"Although race has had an inescapable presence in the hard-fought election, issues such as bureaucratic corruption, affordable housing, and transportation played a prominent role in the discourse of the campaign. Amid shifting demographics in the Southern city that has attracted a younger, wealthier population than the rest of the state over the past decades, the possibility of a self-described 'progressive independent' like Norwood being elected as mayor seemed possible.

"Bottoms, a Democrat, would continue the party's lock on the mayor's office going back to 1879."

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