The hunt for secret Republicans in Atlanta’s race for mayor

Send the children from the room. Or at least have sense enough to cover their ears.

We’re about to have a debate over whether the formally non-partisan Atlanta mayoral race has been infiltrated – and possibly subverted – by closet Republicanism.

Each of the major candidates, seeking to rule over a Democratic town, admits to having Republican friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But none condone the GOP lifestyle, or admit to heavy Republican influence.

Last Thursday, three Democratic state lawmakers condemned mayoral candidate and Council President Lisa Borders for consorting with Fulton County Commissioner Lynne Riley, who will host a fund-raiser for Borders this week.

For the TV cameras, the complaint by the trio – all supporters of mayoral rival Kasim Reed – focused on Riley’s support for a movement to allow north Fulton to secede from the rest of the county, and form a new Milton County. Which Borders quickly disavowed.

The real but unspoken issue was the fact that Riley is a Republican. “That’s her right, I suppose,” said state Sen. Vincent Fort.

The Reed campaign points more forcefully to Borders’ campaign chairman and ex-employer, Tom Bell, the former CEO of Cousins Property. Bell was the chief fund-raiser for GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson, a lifelong friend.

Bell is also involved in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce effort to derail the Democratic health care reform effort. No, check that. Barack Obama’s health care reform effort. The Borders-Bell relationship “just reeks of Republicanism,” said Reed spokesman Reese McCranie.

During her employment with Cousins, Borders also handled distribution of Cousins’ campaign contributions. Many of the checks went to Republicans.

Borders spokeswoman Liz Flowers said her candidate merely pushed the paperwork and wasn’t part of the decision-making.

Borders spoke in her own defense. “At a time when my opponents are making up reasons to be divisive, the next mayor of Atlanta must be focused on how to bring this region together, on water, transportation and a host of other issues. We cannot afford to stand apart,” she said.

But just in case, the Borders campaign also noted that Reed has accepted $2,400 from former U.S. senator Alphonse D’Amato of New York, a once-powerful Republican.

“Should we now expect Kasim to change his political allegiance?” Flowers said. Several GOP state lawmakers, colleagues from the Legislature, have also given Reed cash.

And if Reed is such an unflinching Democrat, why, Flowers asked, did the former state senator vote for a resolution this spring that endorsed states’ rights – a cause that makes hardcore Republican hearts thrum? (The measure was “snuck” through, Reed campaigners explained.)

Then there’s the case of Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who describes herself as neither red nor blue, but short and purple. Yes, it’s true that Norwood was a delegate to the 1999 state GOP convention, admitted Roman Levit, her campaign manager.

But she was there for the best of causes – trying, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to steal robo-call business from Ralph Reed, the official bogeyman of the Democratic party. “Someone asked her if she would be willing to be a delegate, and she said yes out of curiosity,” Levit explained.

She was just experimenting.

Norwood “left that convention completely turned off to party politics,” Levit said. And did he mention that Norwood committed to Obama a full year before she voted for him in the Democratic presidential primary?

Moreover, Norwood favors gay marriage, abortion rights, and health care reform, Levit said. “She’s not having fund-raisers held by people who want to tear Fulton County apart.”

There’s no question that much of this debate over partisanship is a debate over race, expressed in only slightly more genteel terms.

And some of it is the bare-knuckled business of politics. Reed, backed by most labor unions, has the most to gain if the race becomes a Democratic primary. Borders may have the most to lose.

But there is more to the conversation than that. A flood of people that are changing the city of Atlanta into something younger, something a shade whiter, and something wealthier.

The question is whether that something is more Republican — or at least more tolerant of people with Republican friends. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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90 comments Add your comment

Collin

October 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

Mary’s no Republican, but it’s no secret that Borders is controlled by Atlanta Republicans.

BullSh.

October 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

Enter your comments here

Patricia

October 10th, 2009
3:18 pm

It’s no secret that Borders is a Republican and it’s no surprise that she would lie about it. Atlanta can’t afford to have a mayor that has so much to hide.

Patricia

October 10th, 2009
3:20 pm

I’m just wondering why it took so long for the media to expose all this stuff. Borders is doing the GOP’s bidding and has been for years.

D D

October 10th, 2009
3:21 pm

There’s no way I can vote for Lisa Borders after seeing this. Shameful!

Dekalb_Neighbor

October 10th, 2009
3:22 pm

Is this the best way to differentiate these candidates? Can’t one of them make a speech and say: “Read my lips, no new taxes!” I’m sure Atlanta folks will vote for that! Alternatively, Reed/Borders/Norwood could promise to fix all the potholes and steel plates that kill our alignments, suspension, tires. I’d vote for that.

D D

October 10th, 2009
3:23 pm

Thank you for being a true journalist Mr. Galloway. I wish some of your collegues were as true to their pro

Wrong

October 10th, 2009
3:23 pm

Mary is a Republican. Lisa is a Dem and Kasim is not even an option. http://www.Notkasim.blogspot.com

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
3:29 pm

Republican…Democrat…and here I thought it was a non-partisan race. (You know, like they say on the City’s website: http://www.atlantaga.gov/media/municipalclerk_electioninfo_030309.aspx)

Clearly the undecideds (and the campaign staffers filling up these comments) are so easily duped/swayed by anything red/Republican, that these sorts of baseless, conflated accusations actually merit some sort of journalistic inquiry. How dreadful.

RGB

October 10th, 2009
3:32 pm

“Atlanta can’t afford to have a mayor that has so much to hide.” Really?

After decades of inept Democrat “leadership” in the mayor’s office, we can afford anything.

New water system costing billions–no problem.

Pension liabilities–not a problem.

Just raise property, water, and sales taxes again and again and again.

We can afford anything in Atlanta. Just put it on our tab.

RGB

October 10th, 2009
3:34 pm

“The real but unspoken issue was the fact that Riley is a Republican. ‘That’s her right, I suppose,’ said state Sen. Vincent Fort.”

Thank you Vince for being so magnanimous.

Ineptitude personified.

That’s your right, I suppose.

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
3:37 pm

“There’s no question that much of this debate over partisanship is a debate over race, expressed in only slightly more genteel terms.” Genteel? Oh Jim, you might want to trade out that Arnold Palmer for an Uptown.

It sounds to me like Borders, Reed, and Norwood all have their hands in the elephant-shaped cookie jar. It seems like being able to work with another political party is like the Plague. But why? Take that money to make our city better. I don’t care if they’re all members of the Hula Hoop Party — FIX OUR CITY. Fix the crime. Fix the streets. Fix the sewers. Fix the local economy. I could care less who raises money for them so long as they get money to make Atlanta better. Or did we forget about all of this?

Kyle

October 10th, 2009
3:39 pm

Borders is cooked. A roasted GOP elephant.

I will vote for Lisa Borders

October 10th, 2009
3:44 pm

Kasim is against equal rights for gay people, Mary was a Republican and is now self described as “purple.” Thank goodness for Lisa! She is well prepared and good on all the issues. Please vote for Lisa Borders!

Star

October 10th, 2009
3:51 pm

Lisa admits to pushing paperwork for the GOP LOL. So she’s been a GOP secretary for 30 years…that’s something to be proud of. It also demonstrates shows her leadership skills and strong commitment to what’s right *sarcasm alert*

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
3:52 pm

I also saw Mary pull up at the Candler Park Fall Festival in a late-model Jaguar. Guess she only saves that Century for hackneyed commercial shoots.

Tedros

October 10th, 2009
3:59 pm

At the end of the day, Betty Buckhead Borders doesnm’t like black people and Borders wants to divide black people……They;’d both like to ignore the fact thats our young people (black and white) are dying in the streets over nothing but silly posing, drugs are all over, hard working good people can’t find jobs, no health insurance, eldely women are getting robbed every day but yet Norwood wants to think every thing in the city is preacking a life of good roses (No people are struggling, not just people you want to struggle that you have no idea about, talking about you went to every neighborhood in ATL and there’s no race stuff, hell out of here! you sound stupid to me…tell that to people on BlVd, tell that to folks in Stone Crest in SW, towards Wildwood in Cascade…you can’t)…Borders, just wack and a puppet…I’m very tired of how our city is going and the way this politic stuff is playing…Norwood, this isn’t the Brady Bunch and you can just smile, people face real life issues, not just poor people, are you in touch with them…nope…Borders..just no hope for her at all

Claudette Ortiz

October 10th, 2009
4:04 pm

Cuando un hispano aquí en Atlanta, el único candidato que es cada se sentó y habló con nosotros ha sido Caña de Kasim, yo pienso la mayor parte de nosotros votaremos para él.

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:05 pm

Mary is going to win this thing!

Shelly

October 10th, 2009
4:07 pm

Borders doesn’t realize that pushing paper for Republicans is the exact reason she shouldn’t be in office haha. That quote was suicide. Surely, they could’ve come up with a better explanation. Lisa “GOP Paper Pusher” Borders.

Joe

October 10th, 2009
4:07 pm

Kasim is actually not against gay people, that’s where you dumb folks sound silly. Actually check his record, (YES HE HAS A RECORD, NOT THE RHETORIC OF BETTY BUCKHEAD NORWOOD OR LISA DA BRAT BORDERS)…Kasim has been endosred 100% since he was 28 in the State House of Representatives and then the State Senate by every gay group and has always voted for non discrimination. Matter of fact, Kasim Reed sponsored the Hate Crime Bill that keeps people safe in the streets of Atlanta from discrimination. Know your facts and when you choose to speak, make sure you talk facts or you sound ignorant.

Taylor for Mary

October 10th, 2009
4:08 pm

Lisa Borders is the republican and has always been friends with the GOP. Tom Bell is the person that got her the current position at Grady and this is part of the reason Black people and poor people are being pushed out. No Dialyses for the poor!!! Mary may not have all the answers but she is nice to people and gives off a pleasant demeanor.

Chris

October 10th, 2009
4:08 pm

Borders is gay and Norwood is racist..there you go

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:10 pm

Kasim really likes those gay folks, huh?

And he’s a successful, well-groomed, SINGLE man that’s 40 with no kids?

What’s the T, Kasim? Hanging out with the gurls down at 708 or picking up rough trade on Cypress?

Who's Kidding Who

October 10th, 2009
4:10 pm

Tedros, you are without a doubt either a moron, idiot or on the very low end of the dwindling Reed payroll. Most likely all of the above. That must be some good smoke they’re blowing you. Isn’t it time for you to go clock in at the warehouse, anyway?

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:11 pm

So funny how you all like to bash those of us in Buckhead even though we pay the bulk of taxes that support your wasteful social programs. You should be appreciative of Buckhead residents. Ungrateful degenerates.

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:13 pm

Mary has none of the answers. She’s an empty-headed poppet with delusions of grandeur for becoming Mayor. I’m sure she’d want her first order of office to be new blinds that match her nail color.

Kasim and his Black Panther Party he calls a staff honestly scare the bejeezus out of me. I don’t want an angry Black man like him to be our mayor. We’ll look even worse than Detroit! Atlanta certainly doesn’t need that kind of negative publicity.

I think the choice is clear — VOTE FOR JESSIE SPIKES!

AJGREEN

October 10th, 2009
4:14 pm

This race has become so stale…You’ve got this lady out in front who if anyone ever listened to her sounds silly…she thinks she’s running for Mayor of Springsdale, no this is Atlanta and this is our great city. Then you have a candidate who still acts like she doesn’t know if she wants to even be in this race, who’s keeping her in. I’ve been to the debates, she doesn’t seem like she wants to be there. The Kasim guy, I’m impressed, however I still have my doubts about him, however I will admit, he seems to know what he’s talking about. The Spikes guy, he’s good, however I think he has no chance. In all, I’ was voting for Norwood, however something her niceness just is not real when I see my Mom getting forced into retirement because of this wack system so we can afford to pay 30,000 to new teacher and we wander why our ATL youth are so f’d up. So, with that said, I’m leaning towards Reed.

Juan

October 10th, 2009
4:14 pm

Only good Democrat is a Dead Democrat.

Who's Kidding Who

October 10th, 2009
4:17 pm

Brad, unfortunately they can’t help it. It takes a long time to reverse 25+ years of brainwashing. Irony of it it is, they all want to be accepted by the “Buckhead-ites”. Otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much of their time and money there. They want a black Mayor “just because”. It it obviously not because they want a better community and city.

The Truth

October 10th, 2009
4:18 pm

ALL but Norwood gave money to Obama’s campaign. That’s reason enough to vote for Norwood!

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:18 pm

A vote for Kasim Reed is a vote for turning Atlanta into another Detroit or Newark.

None Are Standouts

October 10th, 2009
4:21 pm

I think it’s a sign of character. The candidates should have a set a principles and not be ashamed to make them known. In today’s political climate, we’ll know who gets a “R” and who gets a “D”.

Even though they have not yet realized it, Republicans are on their way to becoming the minority political party. Incompetence in governing, rank corruption (yes worse than Bill Campbell) have turned our great state into yahooland. Georgia is not and has never been Mississippi, or South Carolina, or Kansas for that matter.

The state, even with an exodus during bad economic times, has a demographic profile(race, class, educational attainment, etc..) that doesn’t bode well for the R’s. The best thing the R’s have going for them is an inept Democratic Party that had all but given up until Obama came along. Now there are signs of life and good candidates are being sought who can run good campaigns.

Georgia has always been a purple state, not red. And that was when there weren’t as many minorities and transplants. So these candidates need to let us know what they are, and if they don’t know, or can’t articulate their principles, then they should not hold the office. The city needs someone with values,principles and also a vision for the city. Every since the Olympics the only thing close to vision is an apparent attempt to turn the city into a suburb based on property that we all knew was way overvalued. Now those people are mad because their gamble hasn’t paid off and some have gone under.

No sympathy for them. You took a ride on the real estate casino and you lost, now let those prices continue to drop so that more regular working people and people who work in the city(students, servers, retail workers, etc..) can again afford to live in the city. The next mayor should also stop trying to run gay people out of the city. I have to say, the city was much more interesting when there were more gay folks running around.

Now that the real estate bubble has burst and the dream of a bunch of straight yuppies living and renting in overpriced properties has gone unfulfilled, we need someone with a clue as to what to do to bring the city back and be attractive to all races, income levels, and political beliefs. Not to mention make it fun again so people will actually have something to do and tourists will want to come tour again.

Who's Kidding Who

October 10th, 2009
4:22 pm

That’s right AJGREEN, continue the status quo. Waste your vote on the candidate that sounds good and “seems to know what he is talking about”. How informed could you NOT be.?

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:23 pm

None are Standouts……..are you kidding? ATL is chock fulla queers. Too many if you ask me. The next mayor will know the right thing to do.

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:25 pm

My property taxes are way too high for this city to be in such shambles. Cut the wasteful spending and fix our streets and sewers. Mary Norwood is the solution to decades of incompetence.

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:27 pm

Hey Brad, I fixed your comment:

Mary Norwood is the solution to product of decades of incompetence.

Mark S

October 10th, 2009
4:29 pm

This is stupid. It’s amazing that Atlanta is being hi-jacked by republicans all the way around. Has Lisa ever voted on anything? How is she a candidate? I think the rules should change on who can run for Mayor-we have two black scholars guys with no personalities, a porn video maker and two Sarah Palins republican sisters in both black and white. WTF!!!!!!!!!!

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
4:31 pm

Mark S, don’t tell me you’re supporting PETER BROWNLOWE??!?

Close the door on your way out, would ya?

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:32 pm

Betsy, give me one good reason why you don’t like Mary Norwood — save the BS about the color of her drapery and nail polish. Give me something of substance.

Betsy

October 10th, 2009
4:37 pm

Brad, let me tell you a little something about Mary Norwood. She will cut you off at the knees and then smile and curtsy afterwards. She will say “Bless your heart” instead of berating you with a sailor’s tongue of obscenities. And instead of letting you see the real deal, she will just smile like an empty-headed Stepford wife. She may play like she’s all lace doilies and 98 Buick Centurys, but us gals in Buckhead know the real deal behind her. A lot of them are just going to vote for her because she’s White and she has OUR best interests in mind. She might play nice with the Negroes south of I-20, but it’s all for political gain. A two-faced cow like that has no business even flirting with the notion of running for Mayor.

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:38 pm

Funny how you idiots think you are proving someone isn’t worthy to be mayor by simply calling them a republican. That IS the reason they are worthy. We need republican leadership to straighten out the mess the democrats have put us in. Just look at the results of cities that have elected republicans to correct the errors of democrats across the country. New York City…. Rudy Guiliani… we need a Rudy in Atlanta.

Sarah Justice

October 10th, 2009
4:38 pm

Mary Norwood is as dumb as a doorknob and you know this crap. Stop pushing her because she is not black. You should be ashamed of pushing for a dummy to run our city. She has not had one intelligent thing to say to anyone about anything. And if it did ring of some intellect…she stole the words from one of her opponents. This city deserves better than she has given in the past 8 years. Fighting for Nancy Creek-hell we all fought for something in this city but she is the only person who has had the real ability as a Councilperson who could vote…the only one running who has BEEN in power to do something about CITY issues an HAS NOT!!!! Lisa could not vote as Council President but Mary could and she was not impactful nor did she care about all of Atlanta until she decided to run 2 years ago for Mayor. She started her campaign early and fooled the poor and black seniors that she will save them. She never took that much time with any older folks up north! This is all politcal pandering and we will all be forgotten after the office is sealed up in her favor. NO VOTES FOR MARY!!!!!!!!!!!! WE WILL ALL BE UP THE CREEK!!!!!!!!!!!

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
4:39 pm

Well damn Betsy…tell us how you really feel. Don’t count out those “Negroes south of I-20″. There’s a lot more voting power there than you think.

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
4:40 pm

Brad, the Republican legislature at the TOP of Georgia (Sonny and his good ol’ boys) have been running Georgia through the red clay mud for years. Republican leadership, my aunt Fanny. He’s too busy having us pray for rain.

Liberal Man

October 10th, 2009
4:41 pm

Dear Hog Mountain Momma,

I admire your black ford truck with chrome crash bars. I suppose you lean right due to your W bumper sticker. I don’t care. I luve you. Let’s unite the parties….

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:42 pm

Betsy, nothing you said related to anything of substance or even resembled a policy issue. I suspect you are pretending to be from Buckhead, pretending to be white, and pretending to be female. You are probably a black male living in Fairburn and wishing you cold vote for Obama in the mayoral election.

Martina

October 10th, 2009
4:47 pm

This is the very reason I am supporting Kasim. He does not take nonsense seriously and has a business approach to running our city. This is a leading factor in my choice in Kasim. The other candidates seem to be out of their league and we know this city needs immediate leadership. Vote for Kasim Reed please-we deserve a mayor of his credentials and we need more assistance for our youth. I have a 6year old who can’t play outside for the panhandlers on the corner, the park is not user friendly for the bums on the benches. Who lives like this??? Please consider your vote important to our future not just a popularity contest for black vs white, poor vs rich or man vs woman.

Brad

October 10th, 2009
4:50 pm

I’m not supporting Mary Norwood because she’s white, I’m supporting her because is she so far removed from the string of corruption that has controlled this city for decades. The type of leadership we are used to is all about favors for friends and self glory. Tell me one problem that has been solved under this leadership. Good luck with that.

Shin Jasher

October 10th, 2009
4:55 pm

Martina, bums are rarely in residential neighborhoods. Where do you live where they’re so close to your house? Huh? Where they do THAT at? What are you doing having your six year old out playing unsupervised. Clearly people who live like this leave comments on this blog. Think about it. (And check on your child, too.)