Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Keisha Lance Bottoms on casinos; Kasim Reed on comparisons to Donald Trump


Keisha Lance Bottoms made her debut as Atlanta’s 60th mayor on Tuesday. From the mainbar by the AJC’s Stephen Deere:

Bottoms stood on a stage before 2,500 people at Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and declared that “Atlanta magic” could be just as real as the “black girl magic” that helped her beat fellow Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood in the Dec. 5 runoff….

She said she was thrilled to be only the second female mayor in Atlanta’s history.

The first woman to hold the position, Shirley Franklin, who supported [Mary] Norwood, was the only one of Atlanta’s five living former mayors who did not attend Bottoms’ inauguration.

More than a few lines from Bottoms’ inaugural speech stood out. The exiting Kasim Reed, to whom she gave effusive thanks for his support, often proclaimed that becoming mayor of Atlanta was a lifetime goal. Bottoms did not:

“It would be nice to say that being elected mayor of my hometown is the culmination of a lifelong dream. The truth is, it was never a path I imagined for myself.”

And while Bottoms may owe Reed for his help, the new mayor also has a short period of time – call it the first hundred days – to root out any unsavory City Hall practices she might want to offload on her predecessor. Which makes these lines important:

“I plan to introduce the most sweeping ethics and transparency reform package in our city’s history. We will make lobbyists register, and require increased disclosure from our elected officials, including the release of their tax returns.

“We will clean up our contracting and procurement process by bringing in leading procurement experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of our purchasing department and recommend any and all changes necessary to ensure tax payers feel confident city contracts are awarded on merit and merit only."

When it comes to casinos, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has a stance similar to that of her predecessor. She's not a fan. Shortly after her inauguration, she said she was open to the debate about legalized casino gambling, was wary of locating one in Atlanta's city limits. "I'd prefer that my mother have to drive to casinos," she said. Her predecessor, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, also said he was concerned that a sprawling casino in the city's center would have a negative impact. (Greg Bluestein)

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One of the more noteworthy attendees of Bottoms' swearing-in ceremony: Democrat Stacey Evans, a gubernatorial contender who endorsed the Bottoms weeks before her runoff victory. At the time, Bottoms telegraphed that she would reciprocate and endorse Evans, giving her a well-known African-American supporter in her primary battle with Stacey Abrams. At her inauguration on Tuesday, though, she did not choose a side, instead contrasting the Democratic match-up with the all-male field of five leading GOP contenders. "I know we will do very well next year with a woman governor," Bottoms said.  (GB)

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Meanwhile, former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed made his exit in an interview with CBS 46’s Sharon Reed. In one segment that can be watched here, the former mayor was asked about comparisons made between himself and President Donald Trump.

We ourselves noted the parallel in this space – that neither man can resist the counter-punch when subject even to slight criticism. Reed declared the comparisons faulty, and pointed to Trump’s problems with the truth. But Kasim Reed also said this to Sharon Reed:

“This whole Donald Trump thing is nothing but a political tactic to try to make you stop using your strength, and turn it into a vulnerability. It’s like people would tell you to be less attractive on television. They would take a natural attribute, and they would tell you to not do your hair. Or look plain. Or not speak as clearly and articulately you do. And I know you’ve experienced it in your career.

“That’s what people who oppose you do. It’s like being an athlete or a basketball player who’s strong going to the right. People tell you to go left. People who can’t do what you do.”

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Tuesday was a reminder that we’re coming up on the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s sacking of Sally Yates, the former Atlanta prosecutor who attempted to serve as a U.S. Justice Department bridge between the Obama administration and Trump. The Tuesday Tweet from Trump:

Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others

The Tuesday reply from Yates:

POTUS on 12/28: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.” Today he slanders career DOJ professionals as “deep state,” calls for prison for a political opponent, and tries to sic DOJ on a potential witness against him. Beyond abnormal; dangerous.

And then there was that whole "my-button-is-bigger-than-your-button" thing:

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Two demographic-related articles are worth noting this morning. From the New York Times:

A request by the Justice Department to ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census is stirring a broad backlash from census experts and others who say the move could wreck chances for an accurate count of the population — and, by extension, a fair redistricting of the House and state legislatures next decade.

Their fear, echoed by experts in the Census Bureau itself, is that the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration, and especially on undocumented migrants, will lead Latinos and other minorities, fearing prosecution, to ignore a census that tracks citizenship status.

The results could be undercounts, and thus reduced congressional strength, in certain pockets of the United States. Then there’s this in today’s Washington Post:

In a new article, political scientists Sunshine Hillygus, Seth McKee, and McKenzie Young show that whites who have moved to the South are more likely to be Democratic than lifelong Southerners.

The title of the article: “Reversal of Fortune: The Political Behavior of White Migrants to the South.”

Here’s the abstract:

“What are the political implications of domestic migration to the American South? Using the American National Election Studies, we track the changing dynamic of party identification and presidential voting among white southern in-migrants and natives.

“Although it was once thought southern in-migration from the rest of the country contributed to Republican ascendancy in the region, we find that is no longer true. In the 1970s and 1980s, white migrants to the South were more Republican than natives.

“Today, white southern in-migrants are more likely to affiliate with the Democratic Party and vote Democratic, suggesting population change could ultimately shift the partisan balance in the region.”

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The Newnan Times has a piece on the woman whom the ACLU is backing in her complaint against U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-LaGrange, for blocking her from his Facebook page. Always nice to see an old friend from high school days make the news.

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The AJC’s Tyler Estep reports that Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter, who has been the subject of fierce criticism for remarks he made about U.S. Rep. John Lewis, suffered a heart attack over the weekend and is recovering at a local hospital.

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President Donald Trump's picks for Georgia-based judicial positions are stuck in Washington, victims of a much larger partisan stalemate over executive nominees on Capitol Hill. Add another name to the list who could get trapped in the crossfire. The Daily Report says that Atlanta-based U.S. District Judge William Duffey Jr. announced plans to enter semi-retirement later this year, opening another judicial position that will need to be filled by the Trump administration (with the consultation of U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson).

The White House and Senate Republicans have pushed hard to install as many conservative judges as quickly as possible over the last year, but Democrats, alarmed by their fast pace, are slow-walking the confirmation process. That's left Billy Ray, Elizabeth Branch and several other Georgia-based Trump nominees in limbo as they wait for their turn on the Senate floor. (Tamar Hallerman)


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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.