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Friday, March 6, 2009

Lisa Borders 'reconsidering' run for mayor

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Rumors have been building since last fall that Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders was contemplating her re-entry into the mayor's race. Well, the rumors are more or less true. She confirms she is "reconsidering" a run for mayor.

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In other words, it's a definite maybe.

You'll recall that when Borders withdrew from the race last August, she said she needed to care for her elderly, ailing parents. Since then, the circumstances have changed somewhat. Another family member is helping care for her father and Borders discovered a previously unknown health insurance policy that will ensure professional care for her mother.

As far back as last fall, Borders was privately expressing ambivalence over her decision to get out of the mayor's race and discussing possible routes of re-entry. One such possibility was the chance that Shirley Franklin would receive an appointment in the Obama administration and be forced to leave office early, but that didn't happen. In recent weeks, Borders says, she has received requests from many supporters asking her to jump back into the race

"I'll make a decision before the end of the month," she tells CL.

Is she waiting to see who else gets in – for instance, Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts?

"I'm not focused on the other candidates right now," she says. "I'm thinking about what's right for me."

Isn't she concerned about having lost six months of campaigning and fund-raising time?

"Bill Campbell didn't enter his first race for mayor until July," Borders reminds us (while disregarding the rule of thumb for potential Atlanta mayoral candidates never to use the words "Bill" and "Campbell" in the same sentence).

But Bill Campbell never had to overcome the hurdle of getting back into a race he'd previously quit. If this doesn't sound like such a big deal, try to name a single candidate who ever abandoned a campaign and later returned to win a race — or even regain his previous momentum. Ross Perot couldn't do it and he was a billionaire.

Speaking of money, if Borders did jump back into the race, she'd be well behind the field in terms of fund-raising. The apparent front-runners, Councilwoman Mary Norwood and state Sen. Kasim Reed, likely have each raised more than half a million dollars apiece by now. When Borders quit the race last year, she'd collected about $300,000 over the previous year-and-a-half or so. I didn't ask whether she had returned those funds after leaving the race.

Finally, Borders is in a tougher place now than she was a little over a year ago, when she had just left her job as a senior VP at Cousins Properties to take charge of her campaign. She ran her own consulting firm for a while and then, this past December, assumed the newly created post of president of the Grady Health System Foundation.

Frankly, I can't imagine how Borders could walk away from Grady Hospital so soon after coming on board without alienating some very powerful people in the Atlanta business community, which has been her base of support. And it could be difficult to convince voters that she's not putting her parents' best interests behind her politcial aspirations.

If I had to guess (and, for the record, I don't), I'd predict that, in the end, Borders will not re-enter the 2009 Atlanta mayor's race.

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