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Atlanta Mayor On Election Results In Georgia

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The state of Georgia is likely headed for a recount. Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump by fewer than 2,000 votes. Meanwhile, the races for both Georgia's Senate seats, both currently in Republican hands, look headed for January runoffs. So let's hear from Atlanta. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms joins me now. She was an early Joe Biden supporter.

Welcome.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS: Thank you for having me today.

KELLY: Did you expect Democrats to do this well in Georgia?

LANCE BOTTOMS: I did expect us to do this well. I knew that our state was trending blue. I knew that this could be the year. A lot of people didn't think we could make it happen this year. But when you look at the shifting demographics of our state, you look at the 800,000 voters that we have been able to register across the state in large part due to our Motor Voter registration efforts in Georgia, I knew that the numbers were there. It was just a matter of people turning out to vote, and they did that in record numbers.

KELLY: But if I had asked you back in - I don't know - January whether the whole nation would be on pins and needles waiting to hear if Georgia was flipping blue, would you not have laughed me out of the room?

LANCE BOTTOMS: I would not have. And I was laughing with someone on my team about this because someone on my team, very well-meaning, said, please stop saying that, especially to Joe Biden because he's going to think you're nuts. I knew we - I knew it was there. Many people thought we would see it in the 2022 election, but I believed that this was Georgia's year. Now, I didn't know that we would be the - that the world would be waiting on us to flip, but I thought that we would go blue this year.

KELLY: Let me ask you this. This is in regards to the recount. The margin, as we said, is so tight. And with the stakes so high, can you blame Republicans for wanting a recount, for wanting to be very sure of these results?

LANCE BOTTOMS: I think if a recount will give people confidence in the integrity of the election, I think that's appropriate. I don't think there's anything wrong with there being a recount. But I'm also confident that the numbers will stand. And I know it's very close, and we're still waiting on some military ballots to come in, but I truly believe that this is the year that Georgia will have gone blue and that this is Joe Biden's year in our state.

KELLY: I want to ask about one specific county, Clayton County, which was long represented in Congress by John Lewis, the - of course, the late civil rights leader who was one of President Trump's most vocal critics. It is votes from his district that have helped Biden take the lead there in Georgia. If people are looking for symbolism, I imagine a lot of people are finding it today in Clayton County.

LANCE BOTTOMS: They certainly are. And this year we lost Congressman John Lewis, and we lost C.T. Vivian and Joseph Lowery. And when you look at the diversity that's represented across our state and the diversity that was reflected in the voting, I think it really is an honor to their legacy. And so in the same way that I know people are cheering on the memory of John McCain in Arizona, we certainly are doing the same thing here in Georgia.

KELLY: Just a few seconds left with you, but I want to look ahead. I mentioned the races for both Georgia Senate seats are likely headed to runoffs. You're going to have the whole national Republican establishment focused on keeping those seats in GOP hands. What's your role in that? What's the strategy?

LANCE BOTTOMS: Well, we're going to continue to do everything that we can do to get people out to vote. In the same way we encouraged people across the state and reminded people of how close my race was for mayor - 832-vote difference - we're telling them that the margins will be just as slim in January as they were here. And this is an opportunity for Joe Biden to have the Senate that he needs to really make sure that we're able to move forward as a country.

KELLY: That is Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta.

Thank you very much for your time.

LANCE BOTTOMS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.