Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says ‘it is time to pass the baton on to someone else’

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms discusses her decision not to run for reelection
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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) on Friday discussed her decision not to seek a second term, arguing that “it is time to pass the baton.”

“It is abundantly clear to me today that it is time to pass the baton on to someone else,” Bottoms said. Her remarks came hours after she made the surprise announcement on Thursday evening to not seek reelection this year.

Speaking to reporters at City Hall, Bottoms said that she had grappled with whether to run again since early on in her term as mayor. She said there was no single reason behind her decision, but noted that her heart was no longer in the fight for another term.

As for her future, she said she has no immediate plans to seek another office or accept another job, waving off rumors that she would be taking a position at Chicago-based Walgreens.

But Bottoms, who faced an expectedly challenging reelection bid, insisted that she would have won her race if she had decided to move forward with a campaign. 

“I don’t know what’s next for me personally and for our family. But what I do know is that this is a decision made from a position of strength and not weakness,” she said.

“If the race for mayor was held today, I would win this race without a runoff. That’s not me making it up. I’ve seen the poll numbers,” the mayor continued, adding that “just because you can do it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you should do it.”

Bottoms also acknowledged that she had faced a challenging tenure, saying that “the last three years have not been at all what I would have scripted for our city.” She noted the massive cyberattack that hit Atlanta shortly after she took office. The past year, she said, had been particularly difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic and a surge in crime. 

Bottoms rose to national prominence last year amid the national upheaval over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks by an Atlanta police officer last June, Bottoms called for the immediate firing of the officer. 

She was also among those considered by now-President Biden as a potential running mate in the 2020 election, although he eventually chose then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Still, Bottoms remained a loyal surrogate for Biden. She was offered a Cabinet position last year, though she ultimately turned it down to remain in her role as mayor. Biden hosted a virtual fundraiser for Bottoms’s reelection bid in March. 

Bottoms said on Friday that her campaign would be sending letters to donors offering to return donations.

“People very generously gave to our campaign and I think it’s only appropriate that I offer to return those funds,” she said.

Before announcing that she would not seek reelection, Bottoms was already facing a challenge from Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore. Her decision is likely to draw others into the race.

Bottoms did not offer an endorsement for a potential successor on Friday, but suggested that she has preferences. 

“I have a pretty good idea of the people it should not be,” she said. “But that will be up to the voters to decide.”

Tags 2021 elections Atlanta Atlanta mayor Georgia politics Joe Biden Keisha Lance Bottoms Mayoral race

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