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Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens surges to landslide win in mayor’s runoff

Dickens easily defeats City Council President Felicia Moore for city’s top post

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

GeorgiaATLANTA (CFP) – Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens has come from behind to to claim a landslide victory to be the next mayor of the Deep South’s commercial and financial capital.

Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens celebrates win with supporters (From Fox 5 Atlanta)

Dickens, 47, a non-profit executive who has served two terms in a citywide council seat, erased a nearly 18-point deficit in the first round of voting to defeat City Council President Felicia Moore by a margin of 62% to 38% in the November 30 runoff.

He will take the helm of the city amid increasing concerns about a rise in violent crime and a campaign by residents of the wealthy Buckhead enclave to secede and form their own city.

Speaking to his supporters at an outdoor victory party, Dickens said Atlantans “voted for progress and a problem solver.”

“The people who made this victory possible — they will change Atlanta’s future,” he said. “There is no limit to Atlanta, and that’s what we’ve got to look forward to.”

Dickens had come from the back of the pack in a crowded field during the first round of voting to win a place in the runoff behind Moore, edging out former Mayor Kasim Reed.

During the runoff campaign, he snagged key endorsements from a who’s who of local political leaders — including incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – and went after Moore as too negative to get along with other leaders in the city.

Moore, 60, a real estate broker and community activist, was a fixture in city politics, having served on the City Council for more than two decades and as its president for the past four.

Crime was the number one issue in the campaign, with the city’s homicide rate up nearly 57% in the past two years.

Both candidates had proposed getting more police officers on to the streets, but Moore rapped Dickens for supporting a measure that would have withheld a portion of the police budget until reforms were made.

She accused Dickens of supporting defunding the police, which he said was not the intention of the proposal.

A drive by residents in the mostly white, upscale Buckhead area to secede from the city – which could be devastating to the city’s tax base — is likely to be a key headache for Dickens as he take the city’s reins.

Bottoms — who built a national profile as mayor that landed her on Joe Biden’s vice presidential short list in 2020 — shocked the city’s political circles in May when she announced she would not seek a second term.

Her immediate predecessor, Reed, tried to launch a comeback but finished third behind Moore and Dickens in the first round of voting.

The mayor of Atlanta is a non-partisan position, but both Dickens and Moore are Democrats.

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Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens surges to landslide win in mayor runoff

Dickson easily defeats City Council President Felicia Moore for city’s top post

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

GeorgiaATLANTA (CFP) – Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens has come from behind to to claim a landslide victory to be the next mayor of the Deep South’s commercial and financial capital.

Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens celebrates win with supporters (From Fox 5 Atlanta)

Dickens, 47, a non-profit executive who has served two terms in a citywide council seat, erased a nearly 18-point deficit in the first round of voting to defeat City Council President Felicia Moore by a margin of 62% to 38% in the November 30 runoff.

He will take the helm of the city amid increasing concerns about a rise in violent crime and a campaign by residents of the wealthy Buckhead enclave to secede and form their own city.

Speaking to his supporters at an outdoor victory party, Dickens said Atlantans “voted for progress and a problem solver.”

“The people who made this victory possible — they will change Atlanta’s future,” he said. “There is no limit to Atlanta, and that’s what we’ve got to look forward to.”

Dickens had come from the back of the pack in a crowded field during the first round of voting to win a place in the runoff behind Moore, edging out former Mayor Kasim Reed.

During the runoff campaign, he snagged key endorsements from a who’s who of local political leaders — including incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – and went after Moore as too negative to get along with other leaders in the city.

Moore, 60, a real estate broker and community activist, was a fixture in city politics, having served on the City Council for more than two decades and as its president for the past four.

Crime was the number one issue in the campaign, with the city’s homicide rate up nearly 57% in the past two years.

Both candidates had proposed getting more police officers on to the streets, but Moore rapped Dickens for supporting a measure that would have withheld a portion of the police budget until reforms were made.

She accused Dickens of supporting defunding the police, which he said was not the intention of the proposal.

A drive by residents in the mostly white, upscale Buckhead area to secede from the city – which could be devastating to the city’s tax base — is likely to be a key headache for Dickens as he take the city’s reins.

Bottoms — who built a national profile as mayor that landed her on Joe Biden’s vice presidential short list in 2020 — shocked the city’s political circles in May when she announced she would not seek a second term.

Her immediate predecessor, Reed, tried to launch a comeback but finished third behind Moore and Dickens in the first round of voting.

The mayor of Atlanta is a non-partisan position, but both Dickens and Moore are Democrats.

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Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore advances to runoff for mayor; Kasim Reed falls short

Ken Welch wins open seat in St. Petersburg; Francis Suarez and Elaine O’Neal cruise to victory in Miami and Durham

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com

(CFP) — Voters in four large Southern cities decided elections for city offices Tuesday, with the field set for a November 30 runoff for the open mayor’s post in Atlanta.

In Atlanta, where incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did not seek re-election, City Council President Felicia Moore ran up a large lead in a 14-person race, but her 41% was not enough for the majority she needed to avoid a runoff.

In the battle for the second runoff spot, with all precincts reporting, City Councilman Andre Dickens held just a 576 vote lead over former mayor Kasim Reed, who was trying to make a comeback to the mayor’s office he held from 2010 to 2018.

Dickens declared victory for the second spot, but Reed has so far not conceded.

The race has focused on rising violent crime in the city and Reed’s previous time as mayor, with several former aides convicted or facing corruption charges. Reed himself has not been charged, but critics argued that the ethical problems in his previous administration should be disqualifying.

Bottoms, who led the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Joe Biden last year, surprised the political world in May when she announced that she would not seek another term as mayor.

In St. Petersburg, where Mayor Rick Kriseman is term limited, former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch easily defeated City Council member Robert Blackmon.

While city elections in St. Petersburg are officially non-partisan, Welch is a Democrat and Blackmon is a Republican, and the race has taken on a partisan hue, with endorsements from party leaders on both sides..

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez won re-election in a landslide against four little known candidates.

In Durham, where Mayor Steve Schewel did not seek re-election, Elaine O’Neal, a former judge and law professor, will become the first black woman elected to lead the city.

She won 86% in the first round of voting in October, prompting the second-place candidate, City Council member Javiera Caballero, to suspend her campaign.

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Atlanta mayor’s race highlights city elections across the South

Voters will also pick mayors in St. Petersburg, Miami and Durham

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com

(CFP) — Voters in four large Southern cities will decide elections for city offices Tuesday, with a highly competitive mayor’s race in Atlanta the marquee race of the night.

In addition to Atlanta, mayoral elections will be held in St. Petersburg and Miami, Florida, and Durham, North Carolina.

In Atlanta, where incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms did not seek re-election, her predecessor as mayor, Kasim Reed, is trying to make a comeback in a 14-person race. His main competitors are City Council President Felicia Moore and City Councilman Andre Dickens.

If no one wins a majority, the top two candidates will compete in a November 30 runoff.

The race has focused on rising violent crime in the city and Reed’s previous time as mayor, with several former aides convicted or facing corruption charges. Reed himself has not been charged, but critics say the ethical problems in his previous administration should be disqualifying.

Bottoms, who led the city through the COVID-19 pandemic and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Joe Biden last year, surprised the political world in May when she announced that she would not seek another term as mayor.

In St. Petersburg, where Mayor Rick Kriseman is term limited, former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch faces City Council member Robert Blackmon, who advanced to Tuesday’s vote after coming out on top the first round of voting in August.

While city elections in St. Petersburg are officially non-partisan, Welch is a Democrat and Blackmon is a Republican, and the race has taken on a partisan hue, with endorsements from party leaders on both sides..

Welch led during the first round of voting, with 39% to 28% for Blackmon.

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez is a heavy favorite to win re-election against four little known candidates.

In Durham, where Mayor Steve Schewel did not seek re-election, Elaine O’Neal, a former judge and law professor, is expected to become the first black woman elected to lead the city.

She won 86% in the first round of voting in October, prompting the second-place candidate, City Council member Javiera Caballero, to suspend her campaign. However, both will still be on Tuesday’s ballot.

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Analysis: Will Atlanta’s Snowmageddon imperil Gov. Nathan Deal’s re-election?

Snowstorm that snarled metro area comes in the middle of 2014 campaign

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

georgia mugATLANTA (CFP) — Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal appeared to be in cruise control toward re-election this fall — until Mother Nature brought an avalanche down around his head.ME sm

Deal is being widely criticized for the state government’s handling of a snowstorm that struck midday on January 28, stranding commuters on icy freeways and forcing schoolchildren to take shelter in their classrooms overnight.

After first deflecting criticism by suggesting that forecasters didn’t provide enough advace warning, Deal switched course and apologized unreservedly, telling Georgians that “the buck stops with me” for the mess.

“We didn’t respond fast enough,” he said, promising an investigation into what went wrong. “Our preparation was not adequate.”

In the aftermath of the storm, though, one big question is how much Atlanta’s Snowmageddon has damaged Deal politically.

Deal is being challenged in the May GOP primary by State School Superintendent John Barge and David Pennington, the mayor of Dalton, a small city in the northwest corner of the state.

Both Barge and Pennington have been highly critical of Deal’s handling of the storm. Pennington said Deal “failed miserably”and noted that in Dalton, officials started pre-treating roads hours before the storm hit.

Of course, Dalton has a population of just 33,000. Metro Atlanta, on the other hand, sprawls across 28 counties — nearly the size of Massachusetts — and is home to almost 6 million people. The management task is, well, substantially more substantial.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat, has also come under fire for his handling of the snow storm. He has shot back, noting — with more than a bit of frustration — that most of the chaos didn’t take place in the city itself, which has only about a tenth of the metro area’s population.

True enough. Most of the thousands of people stranded on highways and separated from their children live in the suburbs that circle the city — places where Republicans are plentiful and elections for governor are won and lost. Not good news for Governor Deal.

State Senator Jason Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination for governor. He has been more circumspect in his criticism of how the snowstorm was handled, perhaps to spare Reed, one of his key allies.

But the political implications are obvious. Even as people were still shivering in their cars, pollsters were calling voters, asking questions about Deal’s performance, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It was unclear just who was doing that polling. But clearly, Deal’s opponents smell an opportunity. While Reed is also getting his share of the grief, the mayor was already re-elected last year. For Deal, the timing couldn’t be worse.

Ironically, his first inauguration in 2011 had to be moved indoors because of a ice storm that shut the city down for four days — after which state and local officials promised to do better the next time.

The next time has arrived, and now Deal’s second inauguration could be endangered by what appears to be an inability to learn from the past so as not to repeat it.

Snow has imperiled other politicians, the most famous example being in Chicago in 1977, when Mayor Michael Bilandic was swept from office after a series of storms that paralyzed the city. Mayors in Denver and Seattle faced similar fates.

Of course, Deal is a governor, not a mayor. He doesn’t have to face voters until May, when the weather will be balmy and the snowstorm but an unhappy memory. He also has more political heft than either of his GOP rivals, and Georgia’s Republican tendencies give him an advantage over Carter.

But thanks to Snowmageddon, Deal’s road to re-election could be more, er, icy than it might have been.

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