Has political machines ended in Atlanta? - CBS46 News

Has political machines ended in Atlanta?

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

A new independent poll released by Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood's campaign claims the front runner has increased her lead in the crowded field of contenders.

It's the kind of race Atlanta hasn't seen, maybe ever.

Political machines either lend a firm hand or a strong arm to local races and Atlanta has a legendary machine.

The sheer number of highly-qualified candidates in the Atlanta mayor's race is an embarrassment of political riches. It's also the final scene in reservoir dogs -- only one will be left standing, and barely.

"I think the other issue that you're looking at is that if there are ideological similarities between the candidates, why do you have so many candidates in the field, and a lot of this is just a function of pent up ambition," says Andra Gillespie with Emory University.

John Eaves, a battle-hardened chief executive, gave up his job as chairman of the Fulton County Commission to run for mayor. In spite of impeccable credentials, he's still trying to emerge from the pack.

"We're out there working hard, pressing the flesh, shaking hands, kissing babies, pounding the pavement, but there's no real big machine behind anybody," says Eaves.

But in the old days, there was a machine, the Maynard Machine, and if you were anointed by Mayor Jackson, you ran and you won. But today, it's every man or woman for themselves. 

"We could also talk about the decline of the machine and the rise of the personality-based candidate, as well as the people that can develop their own following and make a name for themselves, kind of independent of party machines," says Gillespie. 

These days, that's how Kwanza Hall is doing it. Both he and his wife, Natalie, are running for public office, he for mayor and she for the county commission. Hall too has sterling credentials, but has also yet to break from the pack.

"You don't have to spend or raise as much money as everybody else to win this race, and it's really about connecting with voters and voters knowing who has the best track record for getting things done," says Hall.

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