Mary Norwood 12-5-2017
Atlanta mayoral candidate calls for recount
00:32 - Source: WGCL

Story highlights

"It's not over yet," Norwood said

The nonpartisan race features a Democrat and an independent

CNN  — 

A candidate in Atlanta’s mayoral race is calling for a recount after voters delivered a nearly split decision Tuesday night.

Mary Norwood called for a recount minutes into Wednesday as Keisha Lance Bottoms celebrated the result. Norwood cited an unofficial count in remarks before her supporters, and said while she was trailing her runoff opponent, she was waiting for further updates on the vote total later in the week.

Earlier Wednesday, April Majors, a spokeswoman for Fulton County, where most of the city is located, told CNN a recount would happen and was tentatively scheduled for Saturday. But late Wednesday morning, Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, told CNN the results hadn’t yet been certified by either Fulton or DeKalb counties, the other county in which Atlanta is located.

Broce said Monday is the last day for certification to occur. Quinn Hudson, a spokesperson for the DeKalb County Board of Elections, said the results will be certified during the board’s meeting on Monday afternoon.

Georgia law allows a second-place runoff candidate to request a recount if the difference between the two is under 1% of the vote total.

Nail-biting finish

Bottoms, a Democrat, delivered a celebratory speech alongside sitting Mayor Kasim Reed.

She squared off against Norwood, an independent, in the nonpartisan runoff to succeed Reed, who is term limited from seeking re-election.

Votes rolled in late Tuesday evening, offering a nail-biting finish for the contentious race to lead one of the largest cities in the Deep South – and one that echoed Atlanta’s 2009 mayoral contest, when Norwood narrowly lost to Reed and requested a recount, which certified the slim loss.

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.

Contentious race

Reed, the current mayor, endorsed Bottoms ahead of the general election, and the two share many positions.

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 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 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 had the backing of major Atlanta hip-hop figures, such as Killer Mike and T.I., who compared Norwood to President Donald Trump.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story, citing information from Fulton County, said a recount was set to take place on Saturday. The results have not yet been certified.