Atlanta: give me your Republican mayors

I may be finding a trend.

At some point, two party systems went missing in our country’s great cities, and no one seems to care.

Scant a city is without some complaints of at least a lackluster Republican Party, yet I am finding a dearth of even academics or journalists who know where – or even when – they went in most cities.

Atlanta is a perfect example.

I had trouble finding book sources in Temple’s library and even Internet sources noting historical political party information of Atlanta mayors. Indeed, I couldn’t figure out when the last Republican was.

I first reached out to Dr. Gregory Hall, a professor of political science at the respected and historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta. He kindly passed my query out to his colleagues. The result was a whole lot of apologies, but no real answers.

Because of that common reaction that seems to nestle somewhere around ‘no one asked, so no one cared, so no one remembered,’ another common reaction I have gotten is those most knowledgeable working to find where a Republican may have been.

I got just such a reaction today, after moving away from academics.

Upon a recommendation from Dr. Hall and following my own path, I moved on to the newspapermen of Atlanta, a city of 486,000. I sent out emails to a handful of reporters from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the big paper in town.

Today, I received this from David Pendered, who was described as having “the longest institutional memory” by Jim Tharpe, Pendered’s fellow political writer at the Journal-Constitution, in an email from May 30.

Date: Wed 20 Jun 18:59:12 EDT 2007
here’s a thought, but it would be a stretch for your theory: atlanta had a wealthy mayor in the 1960s named ivan allen. he basically ensured the city stepped up to appropriately handle martin luther king jr’s funeral. and he had a habit of just writing personal checks to pay a bill for a city service he thought shouid be provided to residents, but the city didn’t have the money. that could be viewed as a patrician republican. but there’s no doubt he was, at the time, a democrat.

It seems that the top academics and journalists in one of the largest cities in the country have no idea when City Hall was last run by anyone other than a Democrat. Strange.

It may be that a two-party system in the urban America is more complex than I am thinking of it. What makes a Republican in a city when he has to cater to demographics unlike those of his national party. Business ties and a fiscal focus may seem a traditional conservative, but if a city’s population won’t elect Republicans, they naturally tend to viability, in this case becoming Dems, a natural case of survival.

Mark that for important paper topic.

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