Now in a runoff, Hillary Norwood is in for a fight

It’s a good thing Mary Norwood has voted for so many Democrats. Because she sure does look like Hillary Clinton right about now.

The biggest setback for Norwood isn’t that she faces a runoff against Kasim Reed in Atlanta’s mayoral race, after winning 46 percent of the vote to his 36 percent in a field of six Tuesday. Her prospects for winning the election outright were always tantalizing — close, but most likely just out of reach.

No, her problem lies in what this result looks like, and the way it came about. Like Clinton in last year’s presidential primaries, Norwood has lost her aura of inevitability. Will she now follow Clinton’s lead and also lose the office she seeks?

The assumption was that Norwood would enter a Dec. 1 runoff having won a healthy plurality with a sizable margin in the general election. The second-place candidate would look like just that: the best of the also-rans, but a distant runner-up to Norwood.

Two late-October opinion polls were notable chiefly for revealing that Reed had surpassed City Council President Lisa Borders; Norwood still had a 20-point margin over him in each poll. With that kind of result Tuesday, there would have been an inevitability about Norwood’s progression from a general election plurality to a runoff victory.

I write this column too soon after Tuesday’s results for a thorough parsing of the numbers. But it’s clear that such an inevitability does not exist.

Here is what we do know. Norwood’s margin over Reed was technically in the single digits, a relatively skinny 9.6 percentage points. The trajectory is more alarming: Her 46 percent was right at what the polls leading up to Tuesday had projected, but Reed’s 36 percent was at least 10 percentage points better than the previous estimates.

Reed may have taken a couple of percentage points from Borders, whose campaign faded in the final weeks, but he mostly appears to have taken the undecided voters.

What does this mean for turnout in the runoff? People who made up their minds at the last minute may not be as likely as more committed supporters to come back to the polls for the runoff. Then again, these may have been black voters who were waiting to see whether Reed or Borders was best-positioned entering Election Day, and who will be motivated to return to the polls in four weeks.

Norwood may have her own turnout problem, thanks to her ill-advised response to her rivals’ attempts to brand her a closet Republican. After playing down the charges at first, insisting that she was “purple” rather than Republican red or Democratic blue, she ultimately released an ad denying GOP links and claiming to have voted for Democrats in the last four presidential elections.

She also, in an interview with Atlanta Progressive News, defended her participation in the state GOP’s 1999 convention by saying, “Just because you did cocaine once doesn’t make you an addict.” (Scroll to the bottom of the linked article to see the quote.)

Look, Republicans within the city limits know that having an R by your name doesn’t do a candidate any favors in Atlanta. They would be happy simply to see a mayor who acted on conservative beliefs, particularly on fiscal matters.

But going out of your way to disavow the party of many of your supporters, and likening attendance at its convention to experimentation with hard drugs? That shows considerably bad political judgment.

Several conservatives and Republican activists with whom I’ve spoken wonder whether right-leaning voters will forgive Norwood, when she could have simply said this was a non-partisan election and that she was focused on the issues.

In any case, Norwood will want to change the subject from partisanship, and that may require her to be more detailed about her plans than she has been to date.

Like I said, the inevitability is gone. The race is on.

65 comments Add your comment


November 4th, 2009
8:15 pm

I wonder about the intellectual abilities of any candidate who is not stressing fiscal conservatism as the mantra of their campaign. It sure worked in Virginia. People aren’t so interested in the party labels anymore. They just want to know they are not going to be robbed blind by their legislators. About Reed, given the majority of blacks in the city, it would be a miracle now for her to win, even though he was Franklin’s campaign manager, and you can bet all those political hacks down at city hall will be firmly entrenched for a good long time if he gets office. But people never learn. Particularly some very dumb people.

Repukes ALL Suck Eggs

November 4th, 2009
8:36 pm

I blame the ajc for failing to point out the criminal behavior the Atlanta city government clan. Bill Campbell was a crook, he put his crooked pals in positions of authority, and they robbed the city blind. Shrill Shirley has not made much of an effort to identify the thievery of Campbell, and her own poor judgement will not be uncovered by Mr Reed, now will it. Go along to get along, right, you stinking crooks. If Norwood wins, I hope she will at least identify all the thievery of previous administrations. It is almost Criminal the way the ajc has ignored the Federal trial of the Mayor of Birmingham for thievery and kickbacks that cost Jefferson county billions of dollars. That is a bullet Atlanta dodged just barely under the crook Campbell, who had designs on multi billions of dollars in sewer and water bonds.


November 4th, 2009
9:53 pm

What are you guys kidding?!?! It’s typical AJC skirting of the obvious. Norwood is going to lose simply because she’s white, and the African-American community in the ATL is about as bigoted as it gets. Now that the “skin color-above-competence” vote that we’ve see for decades, won’t be split…all that rhetoric about ‘preserving black authority’ we heard from college professors, will with the mouth breathers who are obsessed by race. Stick a fork in Norwood, she’s done. And one of the city’s biggest racists, Cynthia Tucker…is all smiles—’cause we all know the script from here; Atlanta politics as usual.

David Granger

November 4th, 2009
9:56 pm

It’s all over. Blacks will vote to keep Atlanta a “Chocolate City”.

Josh Rosen

November 4th, 2009
10:00 pm

Just wait till you see what effect a little “walking around money” will have on voter turnout for the runoff…

Howabout a win

November 4th, 2009
10:23 pm

Well – we all know how the real votes will go during the run-off. Atlanta will remain “Chocolate” – Just as the AJC wants.


November 4th, 2009
11:01 pm

LOL…..I guess payback is a *itch. Look, Southern Republicans are bigots. Blacks will not vote for southern Republicans in large numbers. If blacks even sense that a candidate is a Republican, the votes will go to the opponent. The only way Norwood can win is hope for a very low black turn out. If the south was not such a RACIST place, we probably could get better government. But,it is what it is…

New Atlanta, New Day

November 5th, 2009
1:58 am

Clair Muller and Kasim Reed would be a good match. Seasoned/comprehensive and future forward/youthful “experience” in legislating compared to Mitchell and Norwood’s crooked ways of being just plain ole customer svc repsresentatives. I am going with Reed and Muller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Done deal, I like this pair definitely!!! I love it. New Atlanta!!!


November 5th, 2009
4:51 am

it’s amazing how labels are so important to people. How is the electing of dems working for you Atlanta? Bill Campbell, Shirley…?


November 5th, 2009
6:17 am

Whether or not Mary Norwood is a Republican is not the real issue here,what is relevant is her lying about it!This goes to character and integrity.Surely there are financial records on contributions made by her to others,and others to her.This will speak volumes to where the truth lies.FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!


November 5th, 2009
7:08 am

Who is Hillary Norwood? Never heard of her.

Road Scholar

November 5th, 2009
7:34 am

Wilson, I disagree. Even though I do not live in the COA and will not vote, competence and ethics are the issues, along with being fiscal responsible. I know Claire, and she fits the bill. As for mayor, I don’t know who possesses these traits.


November 5th, 2009
8:46 am

Thogwummpy, stop with the lies already. Ms. Norwood captured 25-30% of the black vote. There is no way she could have captured 46% of the total vote without black support. Are you delusional or so bent on painting blacks as so bigoted that you ignore the obvious?


November 5th, 2009
9:07 am

The voter turnout was incredibly low for this election. It will be lower on the run off day. This election will be decided by something as trivial as traffic, or whether it rains that day.

The people who write on the political blogs of a local newspaper do not represent the average voter. The average voter doesn’t vote often. The average voter probably couldn’t name the two candidates in the run off. If you asked 1000 registered voters in Atlanta to name the two, what percentage would be able to name them?


November 5th, 2009
9:12 am

Well, I will give it until next week then the bigots will start. Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, NAACP, and former black mayors will tell the city residents that only blacks can look after blacks and to vote black is int their best interest.

The question is will AJC report it as it is or just cover it up.


November 5th, 2009
9:13 am

Blacks will vote for blacks & whites will vote for whites.
Just depends on who turns out to vote.

Repukes ALL Suck Eggs

November 5th, 2009
9:17 am

Loser AJC Urinal Scooped again by a LONDON newspaper: JPMorgan agrees to settle Alabama case
By Justin Baer in New York
Published: November 4 2009 22:11 | Last updated: November 5 2009 00:00
“JPMorgan Chase will pay $75m and forfeit claims on nearly $650m in termination fees to settle US allegations the bank and two former employees paid the friends of political officials to win municipal financing business in Alabama.

Civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission allege that JPMorgan managing directors Charles LeCroy and Douglas MacFaddin made more than $8m in payments to friends of officials in Jefferson County, Alabama, to help the bank gain an underwriter assignment on a $1.4bn county bond.” To read the rest of the story, go to the Financial Times website listed below.,s01=1.html?nclick_check=1

Lloyd Braun

November 5th, 2009
9:18 am

The race is on.

And it’s all about race here in the ATL.

The City Too Busy to Hate seems to have a little spare time.

Mazel tov,

Lying Beotch

November 5th, 2009
9:18 am

The lady couldn’t “recall” who she voted for president during the Bush years. Who cares who she voted for – but don’t lie about it. Sick of these effin typical political scum bags killing the country and the city. Glad to be stayin’ in Cobbco, feel me dawg.


November 5th, 2009
9:20 am

Where is Sherman when you really need him…

Repukes ALL Suck Eggs

November 5th, 2009
9:21 am

The criminal black mayor of Birmingham and his black cronies in the bond business have been convicted of this crime, yet the Urinal Liner knows as the ajc has mostly failed to cover this story. Another quote from the FT – “Last week, a jury found Larry Langford, the mayor of Birmingham, which is in Jefferson County, guilty of 60 charges ranging from bribery to mail fraud related to billions of dollars of debt raised to revamp the county’s sewers.”


November 5th, 2009
9:23 am

Kyle endorses a candidate one week, and the next throws her under the bus.

This arguement isn’t about how conservative Norwood is, it’s about how republican she is….and apparently, not much. But who cares in this city? You can’t expect to be a GOP sycophant and win in Atlanta, much less any big city.

But Kyle, don’t let me or any other conservative stop you and Steele, Boehner, and Newt from your witch hunt. Watching the GOP self-destruct under it’s own hubris should keep us enterained for awhile.


November 5th, 2009
9:25 am

Why is everyone saying that blacks are only voting for blacks when Galloway’s analysis of the precincts yesterday without a doubt shows that more blacks voted for Norwood, than whites voting for any minority candidate combined? Or were whites simply voting for the most qualified candidate who say on the Council for eight years, never chaired a committee, and hadn’t sponsored any significant legislation in that time. We know who Wingfield, as he has stated such. The rest of you are looking through rose colored glasses and ignoring the facts.

Thogwumpy solidifies the thinking of many people who will never vote for someone outside their race, but want to complain about how others vote.


November 5th, 2009
9:33 am

Truthteller is stating the obvious fact that conservatives consistently deny: Southern Republicans ARE bigots! The GOP remains an EXCLUSIVE province…and does not desire the inclusion of people of color….Richard Steele withstanding!!

JConservative is stating an absolute falsehood: African Americans have been the largest crossover voting block in history. We have voted for white candidates as well as people of color; we look at people who best approach the issues we deem important…..and Republicans do NOT view us as an important voting block!!

Corey: you on SPOT ON!!

Lloyd Braun: Shalom…..but you’re wrong! It’s not about race in ATL….it’s about who can best address the city’s issues and constituents. If it’s Norwood or Reed, so be it!!


November 5th, 2009
9:59 am

The ten poorest cities in the United States have not elected a Republican mayor in years.
Detroit, MI (1st on the poverty rate list) hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1961;
Buffalo, NY (2nd) not since 1954;Cincinnati, OH (3rd)…since 1984;Cleveland, OH (4th)…since 1989;Miami, FL (5th) has never had a Republican mayor;St. Louis, MO (6th)….since 1949;El Paso, TX (7th) has never had a Republican mayor;Milwaukee, WI (8th)…since 1908;Philadelphia, PA (9th)…since 1952;Newark, NJ (10th)…since 1907. SO COME ON ATLANTA. KEEP GOING. YOU COULD GET ON THE LIST.

[...] Some opinion: Kyle Wingfield says that, in this runoff, “Hillary Norwood” is in for a fight. [...]

So what

November 5th, 2009
10:02 am

Very interesting comments, but, I do not want an extension of the previous administration coming back..namely Kasim Reed being Mayor. How is he going to pay for his 750 police? Lay-off or furlough 2,3,4,5 more thousand of us? Then who will answer all of y’all’s phone calls when you want something done?

I “do” live in the City!

Funny Kasim doesn’t live in the City…unicorporated Fulton County!

That’s loyality Kasim! Should have stayed with the State…

Funny everybody commenting doesn’t “live” in the City either, but, you all have to deal with the City one way or another…

What about those water bills? How’s your bill doing?

Rev Al Sharptongue

November 5th, 2009
10:10 am

Hopefully the Black vote will turnout in huge #’s
We must keep Atlanta goverment Black, we can not succumb to the backwood ideology that permeates outside the perimeter in our rural counties.
Atlanta is the last hope for Ga to still be looked at as a civilized place. certainly not hall county or carroll county. rednecks abound.

No tea party for you guys

My ramblings

November 5th, 2009
10:14 am

I would agree with Norwood having a tough time after alienating some Republicans a lot more if she was in the runoff against Borders who most of the Buckhead crowd could live with. But I think Reed probably scares most of that crowd enough so that they come back and support Mary no matter what. Reed screams same old same old and with Norwood there is ever so slight a chance that things may be different, not necessarily better or worse but at least different.


November 5th, 2009
10:15 am

What a riot this article is….It does not matter who is elected. The city will continue to be a morass as long as the parasites remain. Westend, Bolton Road, etc.

Conservative White Male

November 5th, 2009
10:28 am

Norwoods victory will be a backlash for Obama. we can only look at so many black faces in power before we get nervous. this aint africa time for some change back to our heritage.

separate but equal, we need a jim crow candidate

Piso Mojado

November 5th, 2009
10:32 am


You’re a master at stating the obvious. Do you honestly think any white conservative Atlantan would NOT vote for the white choice over the black choice? These are the same people who gave Republican Mike Huckabee (who?) one of his few presidential primary victories.

Norwood in a landslide.

Dearie Smith

November 5th, 2009
10:36 am

As a City of Atlanta citizen for 16 years, to me the bigger issue is the appalling voter turnout. The Mayor of Atlanta will have a huge impact on all of it’s citizens, yet the majority of registered voters abstained from having any say in the decision. It takes as long to vote as it does to wait in line at Starbucks ~ yet they give up one of the most important rights a citizen can exercise with a lame excuse, apathy or ignorance.


November 5th, 2009
10:41 am

Republicans and conservatives do not exclude people of color. I hear that lie everytime I read the AJC and other liberal papers. It is a lie! And anyone who tells it is a LIAR. I will call you out. You have no proof! Liberals use their ideology and label conservatives as such. It is a lie! The conservatives welcome everyone. Hey that is where the term neo-conservative came from. It was former liberals espousing political conservatism. Only liberals want minorities lacking so the liberals can provide for them in their way of providing.
The civil rights leaders need the minorities to keep money coming in. They have never worked and will nerver have to as long as they can convince the minorities there is exclusion.

By next week we will hear all those aforementioned come alive. Not to pick the best candidate but to pick a minority and the people of Atlanta will continue to live in a cess pool.


November 5th, 2009
10:44 am

This will be an interesting 4 weeks to the run-off

IC Atlanta

November 5th, 2009
10:45 am

Funny is this why the AJC is moving to Sandy Springs – poor and incompetent leadership at City Hall? I’ve heard that Kasim is a good guy and will govern well – to me he seems like a long line of the Atlanta political machine. I have yet to hear him discuss how we make the city more fiscally solvent by cutting and privatizing and not raising taxes.

Maybe Norwood will win, but it seems doubtful now. It really depends on turnout in her strongholds. But what do I know I voted for Bush 1, Dole, Bush 2 twice and McCain?

Associating one’s self with the complete incompetence in DC (1.4trillion in debt, 10%+ unemployment all enemies becoming stronger – Taliban, China, Iran, Venezuela & N. Korea, ignoring the Constitution) is nothing to be proud of or something you should want to associate with.


November 5th, 2009
10:48 am

Norwood is fading… Reed is surging… Reed will win on December 1st.

So what

November 5th, 2009
10:51 am

Is anybody interested in their water bills? Or water in Atlanta period?

So what

November 5th, 2009
10:57 am

Better vote for Norwood.


November 5th, 2009
11:16 am

Kyle, You should probably have taken some time to read the poll data before crafting your editorial. It might also help if you knew the dynamics of the city a bit better. Welcome to Atlanta. You’ll get it right in a few years.

Repukes ALL Suck Eggs

November 5th, 2009
11:35 am

The more I read here, the more I realize the crooked city of atlanta is doomed, a rotting corpse being picked over by carrion eaters. Detroit South will be serving the needs of the liars, thieves, and cowards who call themselves the Atlanta City Council and government until the last dime the worthless city can borrow is stolen. I am glad I live Outside the Perimeter, it makes a nice defensible barrier to the city scum when push comes to shove.

Chris Broe

November 5th, 2009
11:38 am

I agree with Dearie Smith! The Starbucks line does sometimes move as slowly as the lines for voting booths. There are many parallels to the polls and Starbucks. In fact, Conservative Koolaid has a new flavor: Absinthe Tea Ballot: (because conservatives are nothing but a bunch tea-baggin’ ballot-stuffin’ trash!)

Jklol Conservatives are all great americans. Just ask Hannity, who gets a royalty every time someone sez, “You’re a great american”.

Lloyd Braun

November 5th, 2009
12:21 pm

Love your naiveté. It’s cute.

East Atlanta Native

November 5th, 2009
1:06 pm

My God, the ignorance and hatred revealed by these comments is breathtaking.

Kyle Wingfield

November 5th, 2009
1:07 pm

Davo, so you think it’s a smart idea for a candidate to liken a large part of her base to cocaine addicts? It would have been equally bad judgment had Reed said the same thing about Democratic politics.


November 5th, 2009
1:09 pm

This week’s elections really show one thing — weak turnout. There’s no voter revolt, hell there were hardly any voters. Last fall, now that was a revolt — who would have “thunk” it.


November 5th, 2009
1:39 pm

The much greater issie is whtat Democrats who like Norwood are furious at the Georgia Democratic Party for putting out hit pieces comparing Norwood to Palin,Gringrich and Bush. I think even Atlanta Republicans would not like that. That’s much worse than Norwood putting out some mild response to the charge that she is a closet Republican. The Dem.Party forgets that they have alienated so many Democrats who think that Mary is a fiscal conservative, moderate in general, supports neighborhods and is liberal on some social issues, but is no right wing zealot. Some of us contributed to the Dem.State Party and think that Jane Kidd should resign if she continues the authorization of those false hit pieces that went beyond the pale against Norwood.

John Doe

November 5th, 2009
3:00 pm

Exactly George, I am one of those Democrats angry with the state party over those attack adds comparing her to Palin, Limbaugh, etc.
This was supposed to be a non-partisan election. The state Dem party blew this election for Norwood more than even the race issue, as now Norwood offended also Republican supporters for distancing herself from them

Repukes ALL Suck Eggs

November 5th, 2009
3:06 pm

Yo Jay, crackheads don’t vote.

Gerald Ball

November 5th, 2009
4:05 pm

Gee, with all the overt racists on this blog, does anyone wonder why blacks don’t vote Republican? Why do these people assume that Norwood is the most honest and competent merely because she is white? Or that Reed is dishonest and incompetent because he is black?

Look at the mess in Washington D.C. 90% of Congress is white, and we have only had a black president for one year in our history. Also, look at Wall Street. The banking industry. The auto industry. Fraud and incompetence as far as the eye can see. And what color are the automobile, banking, and Wall Street CEOs?

Conservatives live in a fantasy world. And that list “the 10 poorest cities in America haven’t elected Republicans” well excuse me, but when has Miami, Buffalo and El Paso EVER had black mayors? Or how about the fact that so many poor STATES generally have Republican (or Dixiecrat) governors? That’s right, ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI, SOUTH CAROLINA, LOUISIANA etc. So many of the states with the terrible public schools and high unemployment have REPUBLICAN and CONSERVATIVE governors. And yes, that includes GEORGIA with all its problems. You folks sit back and bash Atlanta, well I have news for you: ATLANTA is what keeps this state from being SOUTH CAROLINA or ALABAMA. Georgia doesn’t even have the tourism of New Orleans, and also both Alabama and South Carolina have better universities (sure, UGA, Georgia Tech and Emory are better than anything Alabama and South Carolina have, but beyond those Georgia really has nothing but the other states have much better medium-sized and smaller universities). If it wasn’t for Atlanta, Georgia would be THE WORST STATE IN THE SOUTH AND PROBABLY THE COUNTRY. And no, I didn’t say “suburban Atlanta.” I didn’t say Gwinnett, Cobb, or whatever. Despite Jim Wooten’s delusions, were it not for ATLANTA, those businesses and professionals would have never moved to SUBURBAN Atlanta to begin with! But yet you delusional suburbanites keep asking “why don’t they move the Braves and Falcons to Gwinnett” or “why didn’t they build the aquarium in Gwinnett”? That is because NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE SUBURBS, NO MATTER HOW MANY TACKY AND OVERSIZED MALLS YOU BUILD UP THERE TO TRY TO ADDRESS YOUR INFERIORITY COMPLEXES! ATLANTA IS ALL PEOPLE CARE ABOUT!

Wow. You folks actually expect the people that you HATE to vote for you. You hate black people, are convinced that blacks are inferior, and expect them to vote for you. Why? What would any black person get out of voting for someone who hates him? You folks certainly don’t. You don’t vote for these anti-white black racists. You folks would NEVER vote for a Cynthia McKinney. So if you folks won’t vote for Cynthia McKinney, why do you expect blacks to vote for conservatives?

Sure, conservatives can claim they don’t hate blacks. Yeah right. Cynthia McKinney, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton claim that they don’t hate whites and Jews. Look, the truth is that neither Norwood or Reed are exceptionally qualified. There are no Rudy Giulianis or Mike Bloombergs running, ok? However, of the two Reed is probably preferable because he has the largest depth and breath of experience and accomplishments. Reed knows both city politics and the state legislature. Meanwhile, Norwood has only a little experience in city politics and in that little experience didn’t accomplish a thing. Also, Norwood would actually have to GOVERN. You folks who think that Norwood is going to come in, slash the budget and the payroll … you don’t realize that she cannot do that AUTOCRATICALLY. She needs the support of the council to actually pass her legislation, and she also needs the support of the citizens. You folks think that she can only represent the interests of Buckhead while ignoring the MAJORITY of the city’s residents? If so, you are delusional. And if you also think that she is going to engage in some time-consuming politically charged investigation of Atlanta’s past political leaders you are similarly nuts. Obama didn’t do that to Bush II, Bush didn’t do that to Clinton II, Clinton didn’t do that to Bush I, Bush I didn’t do that to Reagan, Reagan didn’t do that to Carter, Carter didn’t do that to Ford, Ford didn’t do that to NIXON, Nixon didn’t do that to JOHNSON, JOHNSON didn’t do that to KENNEDY etc. etc. etc.

But it shows just how delusional racism makes people. Racism is a sin, plain and simple, and it affects all races. It is wrong no matter who does it.