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Monday, November 23, 2009

Mayor's race tidbits for Monday — Updated

With the mayor's race still a dead heat, both candidates came out swinging in two televised debates over the weekend.

In the Atlanta Press Club debate, broadcast live on GPB Sunday evening, Kasim Reed attacked first, asserting that Councilwoman Mary Norwood had "made Atlanta less safe" by voting twice against tax increases to keep the city from furloughing cops.

Norwood then repeated a claim from the previous night's WAGA-TV debate that some of her black supporters had been "threatened." She cited an example of one neighbor attempting to browbeat another into voting for Reed; frankly, it sounded more like peer pressure between adults.

A few minutes later, Norwood accused Reed of not paying his property taxes and offered to provide documentation to the press. But the AJC's top investigative reporter has already seen the docs and decided there was nothing to the charge. Reed said there was no truth to the claim.

Then Reed swung a punch that seemed to land.

Both candidates spent last week feverishly courting the gay vote in Atlanta's Council District 6, which will return in force to the polls next week for a Council seat runoff. Reed has seemed at a disadvantage because of an earlier statement he gave saying he favored legalizing civil unions rather than full-on gay marriage — even though it's an issue that will never cross the mayor's desk.

(In fact, I've heard several times that Reed didn't bother to attend the Pride Parade, although there are photos of him at the Nov. 1 festivities on his campaign website. As recently as Saturday, an  AJC article repeated the claim that Reed was a Pride no-show — although the current online version of the article has that paragraph missing with no indication that the story was subsequently edited.)

But last night, Reed said that when the Council was considering a couple years back whether to increase domestic partner benefits for some gay employees, Norwood left her desk only long enough to avoid voting on the matter.

Norwood said she couldn't remember why she had abstained from the vote, which is a surprisingly feeble response.

Anyway, so today we're back to the campaigns. This morning, Reed announced endorsements from four of the nine members of the Atlanta Board of Education. Norwood responded by calling a press conference with representatives from the firefighter's union, which had endorsed her back in August.

Also, as the AJC reports, Norwood supporter, state Rep. Ralph Long, has provided 11 Alive with a video he says shows someone pulling up Norwood signs and delivering them to a Reed campaign office.

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