Handicapping the odds in the 2017 Atlanta mayoral race

Who doesn’t want to be the city’s next mayor?
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Atlanta Mayor Race 2017

Illustration by Alex Fine

This year’s race for Atlanta mayor is set to be among the most crowded in memory. If recent history is any guide, the race may come down—as it did in 2009—to a runoff between a white candidate and a black candidate. Council president Ceasar Mitchell and councilwoman Mary Norwood arguably have the greatest name recognition, having run citywide several times before. However, there are dark horses, such as Peter Aman, the retired Bain & Company executive who was the city’s chief operating officer under Mayor Kasim Reed, who has said he won’t endorse until a runoff. Below, the odds these leading contenders will make it that far.

Mary Norwood
Only 714 votes stood between Norwood and Reed in 2009. Although city races are nonpartisan, the councilwoman is the only major candidate who claims no party affiliation; the others are declared Democrats.
Odds: 1:2

Keisha Lance Bottoms
In her first term on city council, Bottoms closely allied herself with Mayor Reed. Her fortunes could depend on how well the current mayor is perceived by voters.
Odds: 1:4

Ceasar Mitchell
Off to a solid fundraising start ($500,000-plus and counting), Mitchell is seen as something of Reed’s opposite, a deliberate, amiable politico who favors compromise and consensus. He’ll likely enjoy support from old-school black pols.
Odds: 1:2

Michael Sterling
A former mayoral adviser and city official, the 30-something Sterling is considered a Reed protégé whose run will likely raise his profile.
Odds: 1:16

Cathy Woolard
A former council president and the Atlanta BeltLine’s earliest champion, Woolard, the first openly gay elected official in Georgia, is politically savvy, but has been out of the spotlight for several years.
Odds: 1:8

Kwanza Hall
A three-term councilman representing much of downtown, Hall has long pondered a run for mayor. As a social-media maven, millennial voters will know him well.
Odds: 1:4

Peter Aman
A top adviser to Mayor Shirley Franklin, Aman was city COO during Reed’s first two years in office. Wealthy enough to self-fund his campaign, he’ll need plenty of money to offset his low name recognition.
Odds: 1:6

Vincent Fort
The rabble-rousing state senator is expected to adopt a Bernie Sanders–style call to arms against political and business elites. And ex-governor Roy Barnes endorsed him.
Odds: 1:12

More on the candidates: Atlanta mayoral race kicks off with barbecue, “The Art of the Deal,” and early jabs

This article originally appeared in our February 2017 issue.

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