With just the right amount of grease applied to its gears, Atlanta’s partisan political machine reversed momentum in the race for mayor and defeated independent Councilor Mary Norwood by 759 votes out of more than 92,000 cast, according to the unofficial count.
The winner, Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms, is the hand-picked successor of outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed, whose administration is under FBI investigation. Bottoms defeated Norwood with the help of a last-minute infusion of cash, an estimated $200,000, from the Democratic Party of Georgia.
The Democratic Party sent several mailings to predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Atlanta with literature claiming that Norwood is a Republican and a supporter of Donald Trump. Neither claim is accurate.
Norwood identifies as a “progressive independent,” and has said publicly that she voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Voters do not register by party in Georgia.
In 2009, Norwood lost the Atlanta mayoral race to Reed by only 714 votes. A poll released by WSB-TV last Friday showed Norwood with a 6-point lead, but that was before Democratic Party mail pieces hit households in south and east Atlanta neighborhoods.
Bottoms’ win, like Reed’s narrow victory in 2009, was made possible by Atlanta’s partisan political machine, an unholy alliance between wealthy special interests, primarily developers and government contractors, and the city’s political establishment that is backed by the state Democratic Party.
Establishment figures and their family members have long been reported to have profited from this alliance financially. Bottoms, who is also neighbors with Mayor Reed, was attacked during the campaign for drawing two government salaries, including as the joint city-county recreation director.
Bottoms' win...was made possible by Atlanta's partisan political machine, an unholy alliance between wealthy special interests...and the city's political establishment...Kyle Bailey
Bottoms was awarded that position by Reed, who fired the incumbent to create the job opening for her.
A number of Democrats who supported Norwood took to social media to denounce their affiliation with the party following its decision to spend money against Norwood in the nonpartisan election, especially considering the other partisan races contested in the state and the special U.S. Senate election in neighboring Alabama.
A sampling of the literature pushed out by the Democratic Party of Georgia falsely attacking independent Mary Norwood as a Trump supporter.