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In a move that shocked Georgia political circles, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced she would not seek re-election later this year. The first term executive had been raising money, including holding a virtual fundraiser with President Joe Biden, for her reelection.
On Thursday night, Bottoms published a lengthy open letter and slickly produced video on dearatl.com elaborating on her decision. In it, she ticks off a list of achievements she accomplished in her term, such as investments in affordable housing and tens of millions of dollars spent on homelessness. She first told close friends, staffers, and allies of her decision privately, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“While I am not yet certain of what the future holds,” she wrote. “I trust that my next season will continue to be one full of passion and purpose, guided by the belief that within each of us is the power and responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Her announcement sparked speculation online that she may be running for higher office in Georgia. The state’s gubernatorial election is next year.
Bottoms is scheduled to speak at a press conference set for 10 a.m. Friday.
Bottoms’ public letter detailed her track record as mayor and the many obstacles her administration faced during her time as Atlanta’s leader.
Three months into her term, the city was hit with “the largest cyber-attack in municipal government history, taking our systems off line for months, in exchange for a ransom that we would not pay,” she said.
She also led the city through a federal investigation into the prior administration, a rise in violent crime in the city, a mass shooting at area massage parlors in March, and the coronavirus pandemic. Bottoms at one point tested positive for the virus.
Bottoms pushed back against any potential claims that she feared couldn’t win another term.
“‘Can she fundraise?” YES,” she wrote. “With the support of President Biden, I had the most successful single fundraiser of any Mayor in the history of Atlanta. ‘Can she win again?’ ABSOUTELY. Multiple credible polls have shown that if the race for Mayor were held today, I would be re-elected.”
Bottoms has been seen as a rising national star in the Democratic Party, making her decision not to seek reelection even more surprising. At one point she was on a list to potentially serve as President Joe Biden’s vice president. Later, she turned down an offer to serve in Biden’s cabinet.