The last time the citizens of Atlanta elected a mayor who was not a Democrat, was in the year 1877. Cicero C. Hammock finished his second term in 1879 and would be the last Republican to serve as Atlanta mayor. That was 138 years ago.
The Democratic Party could lose its political power in the city of Atlanta if Mary Norwood becomes mayor. Norwood is running for mayor of Atlanta as an Independent. However, Norwood has a history with the Republican Party. Norwood mostly voted in Republican primaries in the 1990s and in 2000 and 2004, according to her former campaign manager, Roman Levit. She has also taken campaign money from known Republican donors and her treasurer, Jamie Ensley, is a known supporter of Donald Trump.
Norwood, who is facing Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms in the mayoral runoff, was allegedly captured on a recording saying that she would run as an Independent due to Atlanta being a Democratic stronghold. “I called up the Republican Party in Fulton County and asked if they could appoint me as an Independent,” Norwood can be heard saying. “The thing is Atlanta is 8 percent Republican and 80 percent Democrat, so you can’t win if you are a Republican label.” Norwood’s campaign claimed that the recording was fake.
But even with her questionable past as a Republican, several Democrats have endorsed her for mayor. Democratic mayoral candidates Cathy Woolard, John Eaves and Ceasar Mitchell all endorsed Norwood. Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin also endorsed Norwood after denouncing her eight years earlier. In 2009, Franklin said of Norwood, “She’s provided no evidence in her service on the council as to her competence to govern.”
It’s believed that Mayor Kasim Reed’s backing of Bottoms has caused his rivals to back Norwood. The move is unusual considering that prominent politicians rarely cross party lines during critical elections. But Woolard, Eaves, Mitchell and Franklin are all willing to go against the Democratic Party to support Norwood. It could be a catastrophic political move if Norwood loses to Bottoms.
Bottoms, who gained endorsements from Andy Young and Kwanza Hall, is seeking outside support from powerful Democrats such as Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Harris and Booker are both scheduled to endorse Bottoms in Atlanta before the runoff election.
The Democrats view Atlanta as significant due to its position as a leading city in the South. With the backlash mounting against Trump, Georgia has a slight opportunity to gain more Democratic voters in the crucial 2018 election.
But if Norwood becomes mayor of Atlanta, it would be a major blow to Democrats after holding power in the city for over a century.
Voters in Atlanta can have their say between Norwood and Bottoms on Tuesday, Dec. 5.