Last week’s announcement was discussed on national news shows and during a White House briefing in front of reporters.
“She remains, of course, someone who the president has a fondness for, and you know they got to know each other a little bit during the campaign but beyond that, I'm not aware of a heads-up that he personally had,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki answered, when asked if President Joe Biden knew about the mayor’s plans not to run for a second term.
Political experts said Bottoms' national profile has been building for quite some time.
“This mayor got attention in this moment in part because of the challenges she faced,” said Emory University Political Science Professor Andra Gillespie.
Gillespie said Bottoms is part of a historic wave. Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C. are among the prominent U.S. cities now led by African American women.
“That’s a notable moment and marking of Black women’s political importance,” Gillespie explained. “So to see a Black woman step away from office at the height of power is something that’s notable.”
The mayor’s response to issues facing the city made her a fixture on national news programs. She criticized Gov. Brian Kemp over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bottoms was among the first to endorse Biden for president, which led to a speaker’s role at the Democratic National Convention. As she urged peace during last summer’s protests over racial injustice, her name appeared as a possible Biden running mate.
“All of these things burnished her national credentials,” Gillespie said. “It’s not surprising that people would pay attention to any decision she makes.”
Publicly, the mayor has said she’s unsure of her next step. It appears journalists all over the country will be watching for her decision.