Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders formally endorsed Vincent Fort's bid for Atlanta mayor on Saturday, urging his millions of donors to support a "powerful ally" running to lead the city.
Fort, a state senator representing an Atlanta district, has made no secret that he's trying to model his bid to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed on Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign. He's called for the decriminalization of marijuana, free tuition at Atlanta city colleges and other left-leaning initiatives.
Now he has the full-throated backing of Sanders, who said Fort paid a "hefty price" for endorsing his presidential bid in February.
"The establishment in Georgia did everything they could to exact their revenge on Senator Fort – they even recruited a primary opponent to run against him in the last election cycle as punishment," wrote Sanders. "They failed to take him down then – and now that he’s running to be the next Mayor of Atlanta, we expect the entrenched political establishment and their billionaire backers to do everything in their power to defeat him."
Fort is among at least a half-dozen politicians in the running for mayor, a field that also includes several former and current councilmembers. It is his second big endorsement; earlier former Gov. Roy Barnes went public with his support for Fort by hosting a fundraiser for him.
The Barnes decision may have prompted a countermove by Reed, who has long been at odds with Fort. The mayor soon sent a "save the date" for a fundraiser for Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, signaling support for her mayoral bid.
Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Sanders in Georgia's March 1 primary, though his mailing list and fundraising power makes his endorsement a powerful tool for Fort. Sanders' plea was also particularly timely. The legislative session starts on Monday and once it begins, Fort, the No. 2 Democrat in the state Senate, cannot raise any cash for the race until it ends in late March or early April.
Read more about the Atlanta mayor's race:
Here's the Sanders note, which had the subject: "A powerful rebuke to the corrupt establishment"
One of the ways we effectively oppose Trump's right wing extremism is with strong and progressive at the local and state level. One of those leaders is Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort who is for Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.
Vincent Fort has always been a powerful ally of our movement. As a state senator, he was arrested for protesting Wall Street greed with Occupy Atlanta, and again when protesting a lack of Medicaid expansion in the state of Georgia. He drafted and passed the strongest law against predatory home lending in the nation, and he has been a tireless advocate for reforming our broken criminal justice system. Senator Fort is a popular Atlanta politician, especially in low-income African-American neighborhoods and, with our help, he can become Atlanta's next Mayor.
When we started our political revolution, very few elected officials had the courage to stand with us. Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort was one of the first, and he paid a hefty price for it.
The establishment in Georgia did everything they could to exact their revenge on Senator Fort – they even recruited a primary opponent to run against him in the last election cycle as punishment. They failed to take him down then – and now that he’s running to be the next Mayor of Atlanta, we expect the entrenched political establishment and their billionaire backers to do everything in their power to defeat him.
We need Vincent Fort’s leadership in the Atlanta Mayor’s office. Winning this campaign will send a strong message to the establishment that the struggle continues to create a government, at the local, state and federal level, that works for all of us, not just the one percent.
Georgia state senators are forbidden from raising money into their campaign accounts during legislative session starting January 9th. That means that we have to do as much for Senator Fort as we can before this fundraising deadline.
If enough of us are willing to come together right now, then we can elect one of our own as a powerful rebuke to the corrupt establishment. And Senator Fort will be able to focus on fighting for the people of Georgia without having to worry about his mayoral campaign next week.
We know how powerful this movement is when millions of people come together to support our political revolution. Vincent Fort joined together with us when we needed him the most. Now it’s our turn to be there for him.
Thank you for stepping up to support our friend Vincent Fort’s mayoral campaign.