Atlanta Mayor Race Crosses Color Lines

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The race to become Atlanta's next mayor has become a race about race and the debate over who is best suited to serve the southern city will continue as the candidates prepare for a runoff election next month.

History is stacked against candidate Mary Norwood-- all of Atlanta's mayors since 1973 have been black.

Still, the Atlanta councilwoman is attracting support from unlikely voters.

"This has been a truly united and unified campaign because when you love good people, you just love good people and we've got great people in this town," Norwood said.

Norwood secured 46 percent of the vote Tuesday, 50 percent plus one were needed to avoid a runoff.

Sen. Kasim Reed secured 38 percent of the vote and next month the two will meet again in a runoff.

"I serve and believe in an awesome God and am ready for the next 27 days," Reed said.

Reed has gained momentum in recent weeks, but Norwood has secured support from more than one-third of the city's black voters, making her a force to be reckoned with.

"I don't care about color. That is unimportant to me," said Atlanta resident Barbara Boyd. "Just do what you say you're going to do."

Analysts say poor economic times have both black and white voters more concerned about action and less concerned about the color of the person who delivers it.

"I'd like to hear a little more about the color green than about the color black or white," voter Mike Wright said.

"African-American voters who in the past have voted for the so-called machine and not prospered in recent years under that machine," said Matt Towery of Insider Advantage. "And now they're willing to say 'let's look at another candidate' and race really is not the number one issue for them."

For many in majority black neighborhoods, however, there is still a desire to have a black mayor in city hall.

And political observers say the race will continue to polarize voters along racial lines until the runoff election decides the winner.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.