Bottoms was facing a competitive re-election fight in this November’s nonpartisan primary, though she insisted it didn’t play a role in her decision not to run. Among the more notable challengers, City Council President Felicia Moore had launched a campaign earlier this year, while attorney Sharon Gay set up a fundraising committee last month. The AJC also reports that City Councilman Antonio Brown “was on the verge of joining the fray” when the incumbent announced her departure.
An even bigger name, though, has been hovering over the contest. Former Mayor Kasim Reed recently said that running for his old job is “not something that’s a part of my plans,” which politicos correctly interpreted as Reed not ruling out the possibility. Instead, the AJC writes, “Some City Hall insiders say they believe the looming Reed revival certainly factored into” Bottoms’ departure.
Now that the mayoralty has unexpectedly come open, others may also decide to compete for the job in this very blue—and majority Black—city, including a few familiar names. Independent Mary Norwood had previously announced that she’d seek to return to the City Council this year, but an advisor told the paper the mayor’s retirement “changes everything.” Norwood lost to Bottoms 50.4-49.6 in 2017—eight years after Reed beat her by an identical margin—but she’s refused to accept the legitimacy of either defeat.
The AJC adds that Steve Koonin, the CEO of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, is thinking about getting in. The paper also name-drops 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter as well as two unsuccessful 2017 mayoral candidates, former City Council President Cathy Woolard and former city Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman.
Atlanta’s candidate filing deadline isn’t until late August, so potential contenders have a bit of time to decide if they’ll compete in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan primary. If no one takes a majority of the vote this fall, a runoff would take place at the end of November.
● NC-Sen: Republican Rep. Dan Bishop didn’t rule out a bid for Senate last year, but he has now, since he just endorsed fellow Rep. Ted Budd for the job. Bishop’s statement backing Budd also took aim at former Gov. Pat McCrory, another Senate contender, and derided him as a career politician. It’s a bit of a self-own, though, since Bishop introduces himself as having “served as a Mecklenburg County Commissioner during Pat McCrory’s second decade as a politician and later represented Charlotte in the NC House and NC Senate during Pat McCrory’s third decade as an elected official” and so forth.
The problem with this math is that Bishop is only a decade behind McCrory’s, so Budd’s accepting an endorsement from someone who, as Bishop himself would put it, is in the third decade of his political career—not exactly a fresh outsider’s face.
● GA-Gov: Former state Rep. Vernon Jones has commissioned a survey by Remington Research Group that shows him narrowly trailing Gov. Brian Kemp in a hypothetical GOP primary, but Georgia Republicans are casting doubt on the numbers. Remington finds Kemp up just 39-35, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls the poll “silly” and says, “Suffice it to say we have not found one person with proven knowledge about Georgia politics who believes the poll is credible.” Reporter Greg Bluestein says “independent polls” he’s seen have shown Kemp up by giant margins, though so far, no one has released contrary data.
● MD-Gov, MD-06: Democratic Rep. David Trone had been considering a bid for Maryland’s open governorship next year, but he announced on Friday that he’d seek re-election for a third term instead. That still leaves the question of what former Del. Aruna Miller will do: Earlier this year, she created a campaign committee with the FEC that would allow her to run for the 6th District but said she was only doing so in the event that Trone sought a promotion. Miller, who lost the 2018 primary to Trone 40-31, wound up raising $229,000 during the first quarter, but she hasn’t yet confirmed whether she still intends to defer to the incumbent.
● OH-11: Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown has released her first TV ad of the race in which she emphasizes that she’ll work with Joe Biden “to stop gun violence and provide economic relief for families.” She also says that’s how she differs from her top rival in the Democratic primary, former state Sen. Nina Turner, featuring a clip of a newscaster saying to Turner, “You’ve been highly critical of President-Elect Joe Biden.” The ad doesn’t get into any specifics, though several months after Biden secured the nomination last year, Turner compared voting for him to eating “a bowl of shit.”
The size of the ad buy is reportedly just $4,000, though it’s always possible that could increase, especially since the special election primary is not until Aug. 3.
● Cleveland, OH Mayor: Incumbent Frank Jackson announced Thursday that he would not run for a fifth term this year in heavily Democratic Cleveland, a decision that most local political observers had been expecting for some time.
Jackson, who is the city’s longest-serving mayor ever, had raised very little money and shown few signs he was preparing for another campaign. A close Jackson ally, City Council President Kevin Kelley, also entered the race last month, which was another strong indication that the incumbent would not be on the ballot. Jackson did have one surprise in him on Thursday, however, when actor Samuel L. Jackson made a cameo in a video praising the mayor for his service. (He was not recruited for the Avengers, though.)
Just hours before Jackson announced his departure, the field to succeed him grew when City Councilman Basheer Jones launched a mayoral bid. The first-term councilman, who at 36 is less than half the age of the man he’d like to replace, portrayed himself as an alternative to the “establishment politicians” he’ll be facing off against. “I don’t have that much experience, but their experience hasn’t meant that much growth for the city,” Jones said, adding, “I’m the only progressive in this race. I stood up and fought for progressive issues.”
The field also includes former City Councilman Zack Reed, who lost to Jackson in 2017; former state Sen. Sandra Williams; and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb. And with more than a month to go before the June 16 filing deadline, it could expand further. One big name to watch is former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who previously served as mayor from 1977 to 1979. Kucinich formed a fundraising committee back in December for a potential campaign for his old job, though he hasn’t announced any plans since. A nonpartisan primary will take place in mid-September, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.
● New York, NY Mayor: The June 22 instant-runoff Democratic primary in New York City is fast approaching, and three more candidates for mayor have launched their first TV ads.
Former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia opens her commercial by saying, “To rebuild from the pandemic, we can’t just wing it. I have a plan to build a healthier, more livable city.” After calling for livable wages, “safe neighborhoods, and police accountability,” Garcia, who dons a leather jacket and sunglasses, describes herself as “New York City’s go-to-crisis manager” over the last 14 years. The audience then sees she’s encased in a red box with “in case of emergency, break glass” lettering, which the candidate leaves by smashing her way out.
Meanwhile, 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang is spending $1.5 million on his opening ad buy, beginning with a spot which he declares, “I am sick and tired of hearing what we cannot do, New York City!” Yang, who is shown talking to a diverse assortment of voters, dancing to the beat of drums, and riding Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster, also calls for “cash relief,” opening schools, and “a people’s bank to help small businesses grow.”
Finally, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams begins his initial ad, “I’ve seen rough times, and I’ve got the calluses to prove it.” After saying that he grew up in a struggling household, the candidate continues, “I was “beaten by police at 15. So I became a police officer to battle racism from within.” Adams pledges to “be a blue-collar mayor” who will “rebuild our economy while tackling violent crime.”