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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Atlanta Mayor’s Race Disappoints GOP

It appears that Democrat Kasim Reed has won a narrow victory over ‘Independent’ Mary Norwood in the Atlanta mayoral race. Reed holds a 750 vote lead with all the votes in, except for about 645 provisional ballots that remain uncounted.
Much of the vote was along racial lines, with some crossover votes favoring Norwood, who is white. She hired numerous African American campaign workers and had offices in the Black community. But AJC columnist Jay Bookman attributes Reed’s margin to his record of ‘competence’ as a state senator and assemblyman, in comparison to Norwood’s somewhat lackluster record as a city council member.
(UPDATE 12/3: Cameron McWhirter reports in The Atlanta Constitution that “More than 56 percent of Reed’s votes came from predominantly black districts. About 15.6 percent of his votes came from predominantly white districts. The rest came from mixed districts. The reverse was true for Norwood. Sixty-two percent of her vote came from white districts and 14.5 percent of her vote came from black districts. These percentages roughly mirror the November general election, but Norwood’s turnout dropped slightly in black districts.”)
There will be a recount, since Reed’s margin of victory was less than one percent, and Norwood has said she will request it. It is possible that Norwood could emerge with more votes, but not likely.
Norwood’s party affiliation has been a topic of much speculation during the campaign. The head of the GA Democratic Party called her a “duplicitous Republican.” Apparently it’s not quite that simple, according to CBS’s Atlanta affiliate:

CBS Atlanta checked Norwood’s voting record at the Secretary of State’s office. In Georgia, voters do not register with any party at the polls. Since 1990, Norwood has chosen the Republican ballot in primaries 12 times. She’s chosen the Democratic ballot just six times, mostly in recent years.

In one of her ads, Norwood states “I voted for Barack Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, the Independent.” Norwood also stated that “I did go to a Republican convention once, and I disliked it so much, I have never been to another one for either party.” But when asked in a press conference if she had ever voted for George W. Bush, she reportedly responded that she couldn’t remember. Had she been more forthcoming in answering that question either way, might the outcome have been different?
Some credit the “unexpectedly heavy turnout” for Reed’s win, which has to be a disappointment for Republicans. If Norwood had won, they would have trumpeted it as a loss for Dems, if not quite a win for the GOP. Those looking for a clear trend may have to wait for Houston’s Dec. 12 mayoral election, which features some of the same dynamics as the Atlanta race.

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