ATL Mayor: Moore to face Dickens in runoff as Reed falls short
City councilman thwarts former mayor's comeback attempt
With no outright winner in Tuesday’s vote, the runoff election for Mayor of Atlanta is officially set.
More than 36 hours after the polls closed, the Associated Press reported Thursday that City Councilman Andre Dickens had secured the second spot in the November 30 contest, where he will face off against City Council President Felicia Moore.
Dickens snuck past former Mayor Kasim Reed in Tuesday’s jungle primary election. Reed finished around 600 votes behind Dickens and was not within the required 0.5% threshold to request a recount.
The two-term mayor issued a statement Thursday conceding defeat and congratulating Moore and Dickens on advancing to the runoff election. “Although my campaign was unsuccessful, I still believe our city’s future is brightest as one that is united,” he said. “As the race moves forward in a run-off, I will continue to work on behalf of the city that I love to ensure that we remain that shining city on a hill.”
It’s a stunning result for Reed in his attempt to become the first former mayor to mount a successful comeback since Maynard Jackson. He entered the race in the spring with high name recognition, first-hand experience, millions of dollars in campaign funds and a lengthy list of noteworthy endorsements.
Councilman Dickens held a press conference with supporters shortly after Reed’s concession. “We had the choice to either take us to the past and to the dark clouds that hang over this city, or to travel into the future,” he said. He later told WSB-TV that he began moving forward with his campaign hours before Reed conceded.
In a sign of the negative campaigning that may be on the way, President Moore was also interviewed on Thursday and began providing a contrast between herself and Dickens: “I’m better than Mr. Dickens because I come with quite considerably a lot more experience in terms of making policy and authoring legislation.”
Tuesday’s results are only the latest sign of a changing Atlanta. Several voters may not have lived in Atlanta during Reed’s time at city hall and were introduced to him through the negative coverage of his administration. Many of his former allies have been indicted, fined and even convicted in multiple federal investigations. Atlanta voters may have believed that it was time to turn the page.
There’s no question that President Moore enters the runoff campaign in the driver’s seat. She finished Tuesday’s contest with 41%, nearly twice as much as Dickens’ 23%. She faces an easier path to 50% than Dickens, who will need to more than double his support in less than four weeks in order to win the runoff.
While the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher, you wouldn’t be able to tell by the low turnout. Around 96,000 voters cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, a number that is not expected to significantly increase or decrease in the November 30 runoff. Some attribute the low enthusiasm among voters to “voting fatigue,” because voters feel like they have been voting nonstop for the better part of the last two years.
If this election has proven anything so far, it’s that money — while important in competitive races, is not always the deciding factor. Make no mistake: both Moore and Dickens will need to ramp up their fundraising in the next four weeks. But it’s highly likely that the eventual winner will not be the candidate with the biggest bank account. Former Mayor Reed dwarfed the field in fundraising for most of the campaign, but as WSB-TV’s Richard Belcher said on Thursday: “he will be watching the runoff from his couch.”