Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced his re-election plans Monday from the steps of City Hall. Experts say he’s also positioning himself for a statewide gubernatorial bid.
In launching his re-election campaign, Reed wasted no time listing the milestones of his first term as mayor of Georgia’s largest city.
“When our administration took office on Jan. 4, 2010, the city of Atlanta had $7.4 million in cash reserves,” he said to a crowd of supporters. “Today it has $126.7 million.”
He also said he took other steps to right the ship in Atlanta, including hiring 800 police officers.
Jim Galloway, a political columnist for the AJC, says those words are more than just campaign rhetoric. That’s because he says Atlanta would be on the ballot as much as Reed if he seeks the Governor’s office in 2018.
“And everything the state thinks about Atlanta is going to be tied up in that,” he said. “That’s why he has been reaching out so hard on the port of Savannah. He wants to tie downstate and Atlanta as close together as he can.”
Reed has lobbied federal officials including Pres. Obama for matching funds to deepen Savannah Harbor to allow bigger ships.
But he faces tough odds. If elected, he would be Georgia’s first African-American governor. And Galloway says he’d be the first Atlanta mayor elected to the office since Lester Maddox in 1966.
Erica Parker is a Reed supporter and an African-American lawyer who moved here recently from Alabama. When asked if Georgia is ready to elect a black Governor, she said:
“If it’s anything like Alabama, then the answer is no,” she said.
Reed announced his bid two days before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. He says he’ll be on the mall on Washington Wednesday.
“And what we need to think about is Atlanta’s essential role in that,” he said, ever the city’s booster. “Not just changing a city, but in changing a state, and changing a nation and changing the world.”
Reed has forged an unusual partnership with Republican Governor Nathan Deal. And he’s built a statewide presence by backing the deepening of the Savannah port.
But he denies plans to seek higher office.
“This is my dream job,” he said. “My mother’s a little frustrated. She believes I should be a Senator by now but she’s just going to have to learn to live with disappointment.”
Reed was first elected in 2010 after serving 11 years in the General Assembly.