Moore waits to see who she’ll face in Atlanta mayor runoff
ATLANTA (AP) — With a commanding lead in the first round of voting, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore is well positioned in the race to be mayor of Georgia’s capital city, but it still wasn’t clear Wednesday who she’ll face in a runoff.
While Moore won about 40% of the vote Tuesday in the nonpartisan race, she didn’t crack the 50% threshold needed to avoid a Nov. 30 runoff. City Council member Andre Dickens held a very narrow lead over former Mayor Kasim Reed as of Wednesday afternoon, with the race still too close to call.
Moore took to Twitter late Tuesday night to express her appreciation for her supporters and get them fired up for the fight that lies ahead: “Thank you to everyone who has put in time and energy to our campaign for change all these months. While we don’t know who we’ll be facing in the runoff, we are confident that the voters have heard our message, and agree #AtlantaDeservesMOORE! We have 28 days team - starting NOW!!”
Moore rose to the top of a 14-candidate field in a race that was left wide open after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made a surprise announcement in May that she wouldn’t run for a second term.
Moore and Reed consistently led in polls leading up to the election, but a large percentage of voters — around 40% — remained undecided until shortly before Election Day.
“I interpreted that 40% as probably not going to vote for Kasim Reed, but they just weren’t sure about who they were going to vote for,” said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University. She said it appears that pool of undecided voters largely split their support between Moore and Dickens.
First elected to the City Council in 1997 and elevated to council president by voters citywide in 2017, Moore is leaning on her nearly 25-year record in city leadership. She said rising crime in Atlanta pushed her to enter the race even before Bottoms got out. She has also pushed a message of ethics, transparency and accountability.
She has also focused on city services, saying the city needs to reinvest in its people and facilities to make sure taxpayers get what they pay for, amid complaints about faltering services such as yard debris pickup.
Her strategy will likely differ considerably depending on who she faces in the runoff election. Moore has long been a critic of Reed, and he would likely make an easier foil for her in the runoff, Gillespie said.
During an Oct. 12 debate, Moore said Reed led “the most corrupt administration in Atlanta history.”
Reed, who served two four-year terms beginning in 2010, left office amid a federal investigation into corruption at City Hall. A half-dozen members of his administration have been indicted. Some pleaded guilty and others await trial.
Reed was never charged, and his lawyers said federal prosecutors told them in August that the inquiry into Reed had been closed. Federal officials have not commented on that claim.
Reed has argued he’s uniquely qualified to confront crime, pledging to increase the number of police officers as he did earlier when he was mayor and crime rates were lower.
Moore and Dickens, who were both on the City Council when Reed was mayor but were not aligned with him or Bottoms, both can lay claim to being candidates of change, Gillespie said.
Dickens was endorsed by former Mayor Shirley Franklin and promised to increase the number of police officers, arrest gang leaders and implement community policing. He also aimed to increase affordable housing, improve infrastructure and ensure current residents qualify for high-paying jobs.