Recount likely in Atlanta race for mayor

By reuters
Thursday, December 3, 2009

ATLANTA -- Tuesday's runoff election to decide the new mayor of this Georgia city appears headed to a recount, perhaps by this weekend, after a knife-edge result that exposed a racial fault line.

Former state senator Kasim Reed declared victory after official results Wednesday showed him beating City Council member Mary Norwood by 758 votes out of more than 83,000 cast, a margin of 0.9 percent.

Norwood said she will ask for a recount, under rules that permit one when candidates are separated by less than 1 percent of votes cast. A recount could not begin before Saturday, the Fulton County election office said.

Norwood was the leading vote-getter in last month's general election, and she was bidding to become Atlanta's first white mayor in a generation. But Reed, who is black, used a blitz of endorsements to steadily gain momentum in the runoff.

Both candidates avoided playing up race during the campaign, instead presenting themselves as outsiders best qualified to restore city finances and fight rising crime.

Nevertheless, Tuesday's voting mirrored Atlanta's demographics, with Reed running up big numbers in the south and west, which are predominantly black and include some of the city's poorest neighborhoods. Norwood's support base was in mainly white northern precincts, which include some of the city's richest areas.

"It is my hope tonight that we will unite this city and make Atlanta the city shining on a hill," Reed said in a late-night victory speech.

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