Trump announces support for Buckhead cityhood
By John Ruch
Former President Donald Trump has announced his support for the Buckhead cityhood movement as its advocates conduct a letter-writing campaign attempting to revive the movement in the Georgia legislature.
“Let the voters decide on the very popular City of Buckhead proposal!” declared Trump in a Feb. 26 written statement that blasted the City of Atlanta and several Georgia Republicans he dubbed “RINOs ,” standing for “Republicans in Name Only.”
Cityhood supporters and opponents alike have attempted to downplay the partisan base of the movement, despite many glaring facts to the contrary. Former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms indicated on Twitter that Trump’s announcement confirms her belief that he was behind the cityhood movement, whose leader, Bill White, is a prominent Trump fundraiser, family friend and election conspiracy theory supporter.
“I’ve long said this was about more than crime, it was personal. He wants to destroy a city he can’t control,” Bottoms wrote in a Feb. 28 Twitter post responding to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about Trump’s announcement. “@POTUS [President Biden] still won, we remain #OneAtlanta & I’ll NEVER be silenced,” the tweet read.
Cityhood legislation is apparently dead for at least this session of the Georgia General Assembly after Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) this month declared a halt. The pro-cityhood Buckhead City Committee announced Feb. 26 — the same day as Trump’s statement — that it was delivering 500 letters to state lawmakers asking for the legislation to be revived.
Trump’s statement was posted on Twitter by his spokesperson Liz Harrington. Trump himself is permanently banned from the platform due to the company’s concern he was inciting further violence in the wake of last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters.
Apparently referring to crime, Trump blasted Atlanta as “nothing short of disgraceful” and “national news and a regional embarrassment.” He then repeated a falsehood and a misleading statement frequently used by cityhood supporters: “The good people of Buckhead don’t want to be a part of defunding the police and the high crime that’s plaguing their communities.” Atlanta never “defunded” the police department and in fact increased its budget. And Buckhead has far lower crime rates than the rest of the city.
In terms of legislative support, cityhood is backed exclusively by Republicans from outside Atlanta and opposed completely by Buckhead’s all-Democrat delegation. Cityhood also is a partisan issue among major candidates in this year’s gubernatorial race. Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp is noncommittal on the issue, but his Trump-backed GOP challenger David Perdue is a supporter, while Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams is opposed.
Trump’s statement made no pretense that cityhood is nonpartisan. Instead, he blasted several Republicans by name as ineffectual on the issue, including Kemp, Duncan (whose first name he misspelled), Ralston and state Sens. John Albers, Jeff Mullis and Butch Miller, who is also a candidate for lieutenant governor.
“What good is having Republican leaders if they are unwilling to fight for what they campaigned on?” said Trump. “Every RINO must go!”
However, Buckhead itself leans blue these days, and Trump lost the 2020 vote to Biden there.
Trump has a track record of attacking Atlanta on crime issues. As president-elect in 2017, he controversially declared the 5th Congressional District represented by the late Civil Rights icon and U.S. Rep. John Lewis to be “in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).” The district included much of southern Buckhead.
Trump himself is the target of a criminal investigation by the Atlanta-based Fulton County District Attorney’s office, which is probing his conversations with Georgia elections about finding ways to reverse his famous loss of the state to Biden in 2020.