Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin–the city’s first female and first African American female mayor–endorsed Mary Norwood’s bid to become the majority-Black city’s next mayor on Monday: Norwood is seeeking to become the city’s first White mayor since 1973.
The news shocked many Atlanta political observers. Most had expected Franklin, who served two terms as mayor, and was rumored to have considered entering the race last year herself, would fall in line with most of the city’s Black political establishment and endorse and potentially campaign for Keisha Lance-Bottoms instead.
But Shirley wasn’t having it.
This announcement comes barely a week away from the runoff election.
During a press conference, Norwood was flanked by Peter Aman and Council President Caesar Mitchell, both of whom also ran in the mayor’s race, and who have also committed to Norwood.
The political contest has taken on a racial edge, due to the city’s fast-evolving demographics and also because Norwood is rumored to be a closet conservative who supports President Trump–a name that is widely unpopular in Atlanta.
Many say Norwood is downplaying her true ideology in order to win in a city with a large Black population that is not keen to on voting for any Republican.
She has also been criticized for failing to comment on President Trump’s brand of racial identity politics, and she has reportedly served as a delegate for the Republican Party in the past.
Norwood also turned heads when she declined to weigh in when asked if she thought Black people are discriminated against by police officers.
“Mary Norwood has the skills, the talent.. and the intellect…” to lead Atlanta, Franklin said.
Franklin’s endorsement is sure to sting many longtime members of Atlanta’s Black political establishment, including current Mayor Kasim Reed, who worked in Franklin’s own campaign. Reed is backing Lance-Bottoms and has actively campaigned for her.