The candidates trying to be Atlanta’s next mayor can seem pretty similar. Many make the same promises. Several sit on the city council, so even their backgrounds are alike.
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But there is a factor dividing one candidate from the others: the support of the current mayor.
Mayor Kasim Reed has been crystal clear that he wants Council member Keisha Lance Bottoms to replace him. He endorsed her officially in mid-October.
But Reed hasn’t simply voiced his approval of Council Member Bottoms. He’s also criticized nearly every candidate who isn’t her.
He called City Council President Ceasar Mitchell a “brake on the wheels of progress.”
He’s deemed both campaigns of former city staffer Peter Aman and former Fulton County Chairman John Eaves as “losing.”
“What we’ve seen with Mayor Reed I think it’s just, I wouldn’t call it over the top. But it’s certainly high up there,” said Emory University political science professor Michael Leo Owens.
He said the mayor’s level of involvement is unusual, especially compared to his predecessor, Shirley Franklin. In the 2009 election for her replacement, Franklin kept a low profile.
But Owens said the purpose of Reed’s efforts is easy to see.
“It’s a strong signal to the incumbent mayor’s supporters that he believes there is someone who can adequately maintain the legacy of the Reed administration,” he said.
Whether that will help his choice win the mayoral election is uncertain.
William Boone, political science professor at Clark Atlanta University, said Reed’s backing has had a limited impact in the past.
“A couple of folk in the last City Council race that he endorsed were beaten and turned out of office,” Boone said. “So his coat tails and his endorsement have not necessarily served well.”
A city spokesperson said the mayor is exercising his rights as a citizen and will continue to do so.