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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms won’t run for reelection

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced late Thursday night that she will not run for reelection this year.

“As (husband) Derek and I have given thoughtful prayer and consideration to the season now before us, it is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as Mayor,” Bottoms wrote in a letter published online.

“While I am not yet certain of what the future holds, I trust that my next season will continue to be one full of passion and purpose, guided by the belief that within each of us is the power and responsibility to make a positive difference in the lives of others,” she wrote.

Bottoms wrote that her decision was not based on an inability to fundraise, a belief that she wouldn’t win again, or fear of competition in her bid for a second term as 60th mayor of Atlanta.

“I have engaged in several elections, facing multiple candidates, and never once have I cowarded from the competition,” Bottoms wrote.

A source said that the mayor made the announcement during a virtual call which included members of her finance team on Thursday night.

An early backer of President Joe Biden and a contender to serve as his vice president, Bottoms has emerged as a rising star in the Democratic Party. She has repeatedly used her platform as mayor of a major American city to weigh in on a slew of high-profile issues through the lens of their impact on Atlanta, from voting rights to pandemic guidelines.

Facing a high-stakes test of her leadership at home, Bottoms stepped into the national spotlight last summer by denouncing vandalism in her city as “chaos” after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd turned violent and destructive.

“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” an impassioned Bottoms said at a news conference at the time. “This is chaos.”

This year, as Republican-controlled legislatures nationwide have moved to pass restrictive voting laws, Bottoms in April urged those looking to boycott Georgia-based companies over the state’s new elections law to instead vote and back federal voting legislation. The mayor has slammed the Georgia law, which imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.

She also weighed in on the motive of a suspected shooter who allegedly killed eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta-area spas earlier this year, saying that she believes race played a role in the attacker’s motivations.

Like other lawmakers facing intrastate tension during the pandemic, Bottoms clashed with the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, over coronavirus guidance. Kemp filed a lawsuit against her in July over Atlanta’s mask mandate that he said violated his emergency orders prohibiting local action from being more prohibitive than the state’s requirements. Earlier that month, Bottoms — who had tested positive for coronavirus — also decided to roll back the city’s reopening, citing an alarming increase in coronavirus cases and drawing Kemp’s ire.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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