ZPodium Forums Keisha Lance Bottoms exits Atlanta’s mayoral race without ruling out political future

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    The mayor immediately squashed speculation around her decision, including that her exit from the race was driven by a family crisis, administrative scandal or possible move to work for Walgreens, whose CEO, Rosalind Brewer, is a friend of the Bottoms family. Bottoms did not rule out future political ambitions in her news conference nor in a letter she wrote to the City of Atlanta that was posted online late Thursday evening. But she did not provide any specifics.

    “While I am not yet certain of what the future holds, I trust that my next season will continue to be one full of passion and purpose,” she wrote.

    Bottoms, 51, served as a judge and city council member before winning the mayor’s race by fewer than 800 votes in 2017. While mayor, she oversaw a city marred by multiple crises, including a sweeping citywide cyber attack in her first three months, last summer’s protests following the police killing of Rayshard Brooks and a spike in violent crime across the city.

    During the news conference, Bottoms said that she had been considering her exit from the mayor’s race for “a very long time” and that she knew as early as her first year in office that she might not seek a second term, citing these issues among others.

    Bottoms also served as a surrogate for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign from its early months and was later floated as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet secretary — a position she said she turned down to complete her four years as mayor. Before announcing that she would not run again, Bottoms hosted a fundraiser with Biden that she said raised more than a half million dollars.

    “If the race for mayor were held today, I would win this race without a runoff,” Bottoms said, citing internal polling. “Just because you can do it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you should do it. I can be mayor again. But there is a reason that there are elections every four years.”

    Her departure from the race is sure to open it up to a wide range of prospects, including a handful of city council members who have already toyed with the idea of running or have launched campaigns. City Council President Felicia Moore has announced her intention to run and former mayor Kasim Reed is rumored to be exploring a bid.

    Bottoms said she announced her exit from the race early enough to give a candidate who is “not self-funded” the opportunity to organize. She would not identify anyone in particular who she would like to see succeed her.

    Bottoms ended the press conference saying the next mayor will have a number of issues to aim to rectify in Atlanta, including its income gap, crime rate and criminal justice record.

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