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‘Party of Trump’? Mary Norwood wants to know who's financing Democratic attack

Georgia Democrats unleashed their most aggressive attack yet on Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood with a six-figure buy for a TV and radio spot that asks whether the city’s next leader should be “from the party of Trump.”

The ad criticizes Norwood for her participation in past GOP primaries and targets her campaign treasurer, Jamie Ensley, as an “unabashed Trump supporter.” It also slams her for her decision not to endorse Democrat Jon Ossoff in the June special election for the Sixth Congressional District.

The Democratic Party of Georgia’s ad is a reprisal of its strategy in 2009, when it relentlessly tried to paint her as a conservative ahead of her match-up with Kasim Reed.

This cycle, the party launched an online “Mary the Republican” campaign in October and has worked actively to promote Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms since her first-place finish in last week’s vote.

The Norwood campaign response came from spokesman Billy Linville, who has a history of working with Democratic candidates:

Although this is a officially a nonpartisan race, the decision by state Democratic chairman Dubose Porter to air TV ads attacking Mary Norwood is false and misleading and continues the decline in the political discourse. Mary Norwood is a progressive independent. She voted twice for President Obama and for Hillary Clinton. Mary is pro-choice, was the first Atlanta city official to publicly support marriage equality, and has strongly supported civil rights for her entire life.

Mr. Porter clearly bowed to the demands of Mayor Reed, who refused to endorse Democratic candidate for governor Jason Carter. Instead, Porter joined the Lance Bottoms team by trying to divert attention away from the biggest corruption scandal in Atlanta’s history. Mary will root out corruption and restore trust to City Hall. Keisha Lance Bottoms is more of the same.

Further, Linville demanded that Porter reveal the funding sources for the ad, "in the spirit of transparency" -- and to demonstrate that the party isn't merely acting as a pass-through for contributors who have maxed out in donations to Bottoms.

Norwood, who describes herself as an independent, issued a similar statement after the two candidates debated on Wednesday claiming Bottoms has “continued to intentionally spread false and inaccurate information and rumors” about Norwood.

“Mary is a progressive independent. She votes for the person, not just the party,” said the statement. “She voted for Barack Obama twice and Hillary Clinton last year for president of the United States. She is pro-choice and was one of the first city officials to support marriage equality.”

She’s also said Ensley is one of a range of supporters for her campaign, whose staff includes 12 Democrats and four Republicans.

The two face each other in a Dec. 5 runoff that has polarized Atlanta politics. The two combined to capture about 47 percent of the vote last week, and both are furiously trying to broaden their appeal to the more than half of the electorate that cast ballots for six other opponents.

Here's the ad:


Here’s the script:

“Is Mary Norwood a Republican? She voted in 12 Republican primaries and her treasurer is an unabashed Trump supporter. Norwood was even a Republican convention delegate. When the biggest Congressional race in America was here in Atlanta, she refused to endorse the Democrat. And when repeatedly given the chance to criticize Donald Trump, she refused. Republican Mary Norwood. Should the mayor of Atlanta be from the party of Trump?”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.