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The Atlanta Mayoral Election Result

The Atlanta Mayoral Election Result
In this Dec. 3, 2017, file photo, Atlanta mayoral contenders Keisha Lance Bottoms, left, speaks as Mary Norwood listens at the WSB live debate in Atlanta. (Steve Schaefer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

By Tuesday, 12 December 2017 12:01 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Elections may cruise along for decades with people voting as they voted in past elections. In the Atlanta mayoral election of December 5 an outsider perhaps would have guessed the voting trend of the past would continue, and that trend is that Atlanta elects a black mayor in every election since 1973. But, the predicted trend may not occur if one of the candidates has problems, such as scandals, character flaws, corruption, and the like.

Under circumstances when one of the candidates has “baggage,” there could be a “shake up” of typical voting patterns. Voters may weigh the corruption of a candidate when voting. These were the circumstances of the 2017 Atlanta mayoral race that caused pundits and observers to believe the more than four-decade trend would not continue.

The current Atlanta mayor’s administration is under a cloud that involves alleged bribery and kickbacks for city contracts: millions of dollars of construction work as well as lucrative contracts associated with the booming Atlanta airport. The FBI is currently investigating and a few people have gone to jail or are likely to go to jail. The mayor, Kasim Reed, almost by definition, had to be aware of what was going on. Reed’s hand-picked successor, Keisha Bottoms, appeared to be intertwined with the Reed Administration and also tainted by the corruption.

Mary Norwood, Bottom’s opposition, was a reasonable choice for many voters. She had visited all 242 Atlanta neighborhoods, and said she understood them all and was interested in being responsive to their needs and issues. She had worked diligently and responsibly on the City Council for many years, and in 2009 narrowly lost to Reed.

As voters went to the polls, all Bottoms had going for her was she was adamant about being a Democrat and black, and anti-Trump while asserting Norwood was a closet Republican (Norwood claimed she was independent and her voting record suggested she was telling the truth).

Bottoms emphasized in her campaign that black voters should support her, the black candidate. Lest readers here question the explicit nature of such racial campaigning, this is how the local papers reported on the election, and possibly the white and black Bottoms’ campaign stimulated this type of news coverage.

Polls in the last week showed Norwood ahead, and as Bottoms became desperate to win, the state Democratic Party jumped into what was supposed to be a nonpartisan election, advocating for Bottoms, causing a few observers to say there was a link between race and the Democrats!

At this point we might reflect on the election. Will voters continue a long term trend of voting along racial and political party lines (virtually all blacks are Democrats) or in the face of a candidate of questionable character and ethics and even issues, will the voters select another candidate who is clearly an acceptable choice?

The Atlanta mayoral election answered the question: Bottoms won by a margin of about 750 votes carrying virtually all of the black precincts. African-American voters will choose a candidate of their own race who is possibly corrupt and questionable over a white candidate with very few flaws.

What else might we take away from this election?

First, the liberal Atlanta Constitution paper minimized the impact of racial voting in its analysis, more or less ignoring the Bottoms’ campaign and her overwhelming vote percentages in the black precincts. Instead, the paper emphasized the victory was the result of 6,000 largely white voters, Bernie Sanders-style Democrats, in the recently gentrified Fourth Ward east of Atlanta that went 67 percent for Bottoms (in 2009 there were 3,000 voters in the ward and Norwood captured 40 percent of its support). A different view on this voting pattern could be that if the white voters of Atlanta had been as racially motived as the black precincts, Norwood would have won. It is likely the young, gentrified residents of the Fourth Ward barely know anything about the details of politics, much less the details of the corruption of Reed and his likely ties to Bottoms.

It is exceedingly dangerous for the nation when voters so completely ignore issues, corruption and character problems of candidates and instead, voters support the religious-like club. Yet, this is where we are in the United States of America.

John Havick has a Ph.D. in political science. He was a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology for many years, authored several books and a number of articles, including the widely cited "The Impact of the Internet on a Television-Based Society." His work has appeared in The New York Times, and his recent book, "The Ghosts of NASCAR: The Harlan Boys and the First Daytona 500," is available at ghostsofnascar.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Mary Norwood, Bottom’s opposition, was a reasonable choice for many voters.
atlanta, mayor, election
Tuesday, 12 December 2017 12:01 PM
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