Less than two months ago, City Councilman Andre Dickens was stuck in a distant third place. On Tuesday night, he won the right to become Atlanta’s 61st Mayor.
With 100% of precincts in, Andre Dickens secured 50,071 votes (64%) against City Council President Felicia Moore’s 28,572 votes (36%).
As I pointed out last month, Dickens wasn’t even expected to make the November 30th run-off. Former Mayor Kasim Reed was poised to make his own comeback until Dickens closed a fourteen point gap in the campaign’s final weeks. Perhaps voters were wary of giving Reed another shot given the bribery scandal that engulfed the end of his second term.
Dickens ended up edging out Reed by just 600 votes in the first round to make the run-off, with Moore capturing a solid plurality of 41%. Moore, who’s served on the City Council since 1998, was the candidate of experience in the race. While she was able to win the endorsement of the city’s firefighters, Moore was nevertheless plagued by a lack of institutional support. Not only was Moore out-fundraised, but six City Council members decided to throw their support behind Dickens instead of with their President.
Her opposition also painted her as too friendly with the white, conservative interests in the city. This attack was likely fueled by a video Moore’s campaign briefly posted to Instagram in October. The video featured Moore alongside a white man who declares that “For forty years now…we have never had a mayor that has a conscience.” He goes on to accuse this string of Mayors of only being interested in “lining their own pockets” before endorsing Moore. Since all of Atlanta’s Mayors since 1979 have been Black, the comments had obvious racial undertones. Additionally, the man turned out to be a vocal Trump supporter with tons of questionable social media posts. Moore was forced to quickly apologize and admit that the video was a mistake.
Moore’s largest problem, however, was an inability to win the support of retiring incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Despite not running for re-election, Bottoms remains popular and her support of Dickens likely played a major role in his eventual victory. By the way, with her day job ending soon, keep an eye on Bottoms to possibly win a promotion from the Biden White House. Bottoms endorsed Biden way back in June 2019 and was one of the finalists to be his Vice Presidential pick.
Despite Moore’s tough November, the two polls taken of the race suggested the outcome was far from clear. The November 11th to 19th University of Georgia survey (the same institution that had Dickens in a distant third) now showed Dickens ahead 43% to 37%. Yet a November 17th to 22nd poll from SurveyUSA found Moore with a 46% to 40% lead.
Nonetheless, Moore’s streak of bad luck would continue. In the final hours of the campaign, a false rumor that she would close down Atlanta’s nightclubs spread online. This fake news was even spread by the rapper and Atlanta native T.I.
Finally, the preliminary count shows a total turnout of 78,643 voters for this run-off. Back in 2017, 92,169 voters showed up for the run-off between Bottoms and Mary Norwood. This drop off should be discouraging for Democrats, who will need a strong showing from Atlanta to win a full term for Senator Raphael Warnock and elect Stacey Abrams Governor next year.
For now, though, 47 year-old Andre Dickens is set to be sworn in as the next Mayor of Atlanta on January 2, 2022.