Acknowledging this history, Norwood said, “I’ve done this before.” A Norwood victory would mean Atlanta — a gentrifying city where the African American share of the population remains a majority but has gone down over the years — would have its first white mayor in more than 40 years. Georgia utilizes a majority rule with a runoff voting system, which means that if no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote in the general election, a final race between the top two candidates decides the winner.
Bottoms and Norwood earned
about 26% and 21%, respectively, of the vote in the general election on November 6, meaning they emerged as the top two candidates from the field of 11. Reed, the current mayor, endorsed Bottoms ahead of the general election, and the two share many positions in common. His tenure as mayor became one of the major factors in the race. Norwood, in the final debate
on Sunday, sought to cast Reed’s support as a negative, tying Bottoms to the controversial aspects of Reed’s tenure, including a reported bribery investigation into Atlanta City Hall.
Reed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, has denied he is personally involved in the probe and said he would cooperate with any requests from the Justice Department. Reed and Norwood traded barbs for much of the race, and Norwood drew ire when the Atlanta newspaper reported
she had told a group of Young Republicans that she believed she lost the 2009 mayoral race against Reed because he engaged in voter fraud — an unsubstantiated charge that Reed’s office said came without evidence.
Bottoms, meanwhile, sought to cast Norwood as a Republican hiding behind the guise of her independent status.
The city of Atlanta is a Democratic stronghold in a state that is otherwise largely Republican, and the city’s government remains the only major Democratic power center in the state’s political system, which is dominated by Republican officeholders. In a last-minute boost to Norwood — and one with significant cachet — former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin endorsed
the independent candidate over Bottoms.
Norwood also got endorsements from several of her former competitors, and state senator Vincent Fort — the unsuccessful candidate backed by independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — had
kind words to say about her after the general election. Fort, however, declined to endorse one of the two remaining contenders and told his supporters to vote their consciences. Bottoms counts the backing of major Georgia Democrats like
former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, a civil rights icon and former UN ambassador.
And Bottoms got herself a last-minute boost
as well. Democratic US Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey appeared in Atlanta the weekend before the runoff election to promote her candidacy.
Bottoms likewise had the backing of major Atlanta hip-hop figures, like Killer Mike and T.I., who compared
Norwood to President Donald Trump.