By: Ashley Nelson
Atlanta; Ga. The results are in. As Dr. Rashad Richey predicted in Newsmakers Live 10th Anniversary Election series pre-election night panel, including guest panelists Robert Patillo and Shelley Wynters, Atlanta’s leading woman candidates Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms enters into the runoffs.
“Predictions are based on one scientific data,” Richey told NML moderator and Emmy award-winning journalist, Maynard Eaton. “If you look at actual scientific polls that take the response that makes up the contents of what historical context of what usually happens in Atlanta. You are talking about white participation, black participation, gender participation as well as race participation. If you look at scientific polls, they give you a good indication of how things would turn out.”
Richey is the mid-day host of ‘Real Talk with Rashad Richey, political commentator, and writer for CBS Atlanta. Known as being one of the top three black political pundits in Atlanta, including guest panel members, Richey believes the reason why Bottoms is gaining in the polls is organically black females are beginning to support her in large numbers. Being black women are the largest voting population in Atlanta, Bottoms is the only black female candidate running in this election. The organic split amongst white and black voters eliminated the chances of two white candidates or two black candidates in the runoffs.
Although fellow panel member Robert Patillo said polls to be insignificant in modern politics, he broke it down for viewers as to why Bottoms will be in the runoffs. Out of the 250,000 registered voters in Atlanta, Patillo predicts a 60,000 voter turnout, most of which are low, information voters. “People are going to go in there and say, I need to vote for mayor. Black woman, named Keisha, cool that is me. I am good,” said Patillo.
According to the AJC, Bottoms received the largest amount of support from black women. “People break things up into chunks, white lady, white dude. Them black dudes running and the black woman running, The candidates never got to polity position policy points, and that is why Keisha is going to get a large amount of the black voters to vote for mayor,” Patillo said.
Patillo is an attorney and CBS radio host who frequently guest appears on Fox News and TV One. He believes in this election; political party affiliation does not matter. It is all about the green part, the money party and Bottoms is a continuation of Reed’s corporate policies. For Patillo, Reed is no different from David Duke, shuffling homelessness outside of the city.
Agreeing with Patillo, Wynters said it does not matter if a Republican mayor wins the elections. For the last eight years, Atlanta has had a Republican mayor, reasonably moderate but, by definition, republican. Mayor Reed was pro-police and pro-business. A media consultant and a Facebook commentator, Wynters was the conservative political pundit on the panel.
“What a robust, revealing, and riveting political debate about Atlanta politics with the top three African American political pundits in the city,” said Eaton. “It was a treat to share the stage and moderate this compelling conversation.”
Atlanta has something different than most. Wynters said Atlanta has black voters and white money. However; now, Black money has remained the same over the last administration. The influx of people coming to Atlanta is not reaping any of the benefits from prior administrations. Wynters believe this is why Bottoms is in the runoffs. Not because she is the best candidate, seeing she has the shortest term on council amongst councilmembers, but because this was designed and planned. “They are doing everything right for a future incoming white middle-class mayor,” Wynters said.
In a crowded election, there will be a low voter turnout as Patillo said before. Wynter explained you have eight people who are qualified to be mayor, and people are unsure of whom to decide. Instead, they make their decisions in the runoffs. The only candidates who are not affected by this, are the two candidates left standing in Atlanta’s mayoral race. Bottoms, endorsed by Mayor Reed and Norwood, the two-time “front-runner” candidate who lost by 700 votes to the prior administration.
Norwood is on track to becoming Atlanta’s first white mayor in 43 years, if she can emerge victorious in the runoff. In what Richey established as racial identity politics, has Atlanta had enough of black leadership? In what appears to be a national trend, black cities are electing white officials who they believe will handle the issues of their community. “After 40 years of black democratic racial politics not fixing the issues, the young community has reached a point where race does not matter. They just want the issues in their community fixed,” Patillo said.
Norwood has signs in the black community, the older black community. None of the candidates have openly talked about the issues motivating black youths in America for the past six years such as the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and social injustices, including the black candidates. Patillo said the candidates get quiet, quick when it comes to black folks getting shot in the streets.
“I feel like the things that are happening today, we will feel later on,” said Michaelah Montgomery, Clark Atlanta University political science major and Atlanta future Senator in the making. “In the process of Norwood fixing all these problems, will be like a piece of gentrification because a lot of the time, they are going to erase crime by removing black presence. We might end up getting the Atlanta we want but at whose expense.”
The appetite for politics is changing, Montgomery believes millennials want to be a part of the process but are often left out of the conversation. With the candidates running superficial campaigns, none of them addressed or fumbled with the issues that matter to millennials the most. At a debate Richey hosted, Norwood was the only candidate to speak during the yes or no card segment in response to racial profiling. When Norwood said nothing to Richey’s follow-up question of racial profiling happening in Atlanta, a speechless Norwood went flooded the news channels and the Internet. According to Richey, you cannot change it without acknowledging it.
Richey warns about the dangers of racial identity and gender politics. Not one guest female panelist member was present in a mayoral race with two leading female candidates. Dr. Dwanda Farmer, unafraid to voice her dissatisfaction, “I think it was a missed opportunity that they failed to present the female perspective of politics by not including female politicians who understand Atlanta politics. Particularly, since the likelihood of the city being lead by a woman is so great”.
“Keisha has it in the bag it seems because white men would rather have a black woman rather than a white woman run the city and the nation,” said executive producer Jim Welcome, his usual biting and cutting commentary.