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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms won't run for re-election

Bottoms got national attention after she was reported to be on a shortlist to be President Joe Biden's running mate last year.
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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Thursday that she will not seek re-election this fall.

In a letter, Bottoms, a first-term Democrat, confirmed news she had shared in a call with staff members and allies, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In the letter, posted to her Twitter account Thursday evening, Bottoms thanked residents and her supporters, highlighting her accomplishments in jobs, housing, public safety and redevelopment. Bottoms said she and her husband "have given thoughtful prayer and consideration" to their next chapter and had decided not to seek another term.

"It is with deep emotions that I hold my head high, and choose not to seek another term as Mayor," she wrote, adding that she could win re-election but decided against running.

During a Friday morning news conference, Bottoms did not indicate what she might do next, nor did she mention future political aspirations.

“I don’t know what’s next for me personally and for my family,” she said. “But what I do know is that this is a decision made from a position of strength and not weakness.”

Asked if she would consider a potential role in the Biden administration, she replied, “we’ll see,” noting that being mayor with Biden in the White House has “made a world of difference.”

Bottoms said it was a "very difficult decision" not to run for re-election and said that there was not one single thing that led her to it.

“In the same way that it was clear to me five years ago I should run, it is abundantly clear to me today that it’s time to pass the baton on to someone else," she said.

Bottoms, who appeared emotional at times, joked to reporters that, "Somebody said to me yesterday, whatever you do, don’t cry. And for God’s sake, don’t have an ugly cry.”

Bottoms, who was elected in 2017, rose to national prominence during the 2020 election cycle as one of Joe Biden's earliest supporters and an outspoken critic of Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to reopen Georgia, going toe to toe with him in court over her decision to enforce a mask mandate in Atlanta. She was rumored to have been considered to be Biden's running mate.

Bottoms was also thrust into the national spotlight during the civil rights upheaval ignited by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last May.

The announcement comes days after the reinstatement of the Atlanta police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks in June. The officer, Garrett Rolfe, will remain on administrative leave. Rolfe had been terminated from his job last year — a move that Bottoms defended on Friday.

“I firmly believe it was the right decision. I firmly believe that if I had not made that decision, this city would have seen much worse," she said.

Bottoms, whose term expires in January 2022, rejected speculation that she’s leaving office for fear of losing November’s election, pointing to her approval rating and strong fundraising.

“I’ve raised the money. I had the most successful fundraiser of any mayor in the history of this city with President Biden," she said.

Bottoms said she plans to serve through the end of her term.

Bottoms had already begun fundraising for her re-election campaign, including holding an event with Biden. A few other people have decided to run, and Bottoms' announcement could widen the field. City Council President Felicia Moore, a Democrat, has already announced plans to run Nov. 2.

Bottoms faced a number of issues over the past year regarding crime and public safety. Last year, for instance, the city had a record number of homicides, the Journal-Constitution reported.

In her letter, she did not say what her next role will be and she did not shut the door on running for office again, but she said she will finish out her term.

"I have engaged in several elections, facing multiple candidates, and never once have I cowarded from the competition," she said. "It is my sincere hope that over the next several months, a candidate for Mayor will emerge whom the people of Atlanta may entrust to lead our beloved city to its next and best chapter."

She added, "For our country, it means working to advance the agenda of the Biden-Harris Administration."