Atlanta mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms declares victory during an election-night watch party Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Atlanta. Atlanta's two-person mayoral runoff election is too close to call. Bottoms leads Mary Norwood by a margin of less than 1%, which is the threshold where the second-place finisher can request a recount under state law.
John Bazemore, AP

ATLANTA — In an incredibly tight finish in the race to become Atlanta's 60th mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms finished ahead of Mary Norwood by 759 votes in Tuesday's runoff.

While Bottoms and her supporters claimed victory, Norwood told her supporters she is asking for a recount.

Bottoms spoke early Wednesday at an Atlanta hotel, saying near the end of her speech that "I am just in awe of what God is able to do."

"I'm so honored to be your 60th mayor," she told her cheering supporters.

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But Norwood took the podium at her own rally and said that absentee ballots from military members were yet to figure in the totals, and she believes some ballots have yet to be tabulated.

"We will be asking for a recount," Norwood said.

With 100% of precincts reporting, Bottoms received 46,464 votes to Norwood's 45,705 votes. The Associated Press has deemed the race "Too close to call."

Mary Norwood makes a statement as she arrives for her election night party at the Park Tavern in the Atlanta mayoral runoff on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Atlanta. Norwood told supporters she would seek a recount.
Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

According to the Georgia Secretary of State, a losing candidate can request a recount if the difference in votes between the winner and loser is not more than 1% of the total votes cast in the race.

In terms of overall percentage, Bottoms and Norwood each received 50% of the vote.

The runoff was needed as Bottoms and Norwood finished first and second, respectively, on Nov. 7 from a crowded field of candidates.

This would be the second time Norwood has requested a recount in an Atlanta mayor's race. In 2009, with about 84,000 votes cast in a runoff between her and Kasim Reed, Reed won by 714 votes.

In 2009, the recount was finished eight days after the Dec. 1 runoff, with Norwood conceding on Dec. 9.

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On Tuesday night, Norwood took an early lead as the first results came in, but Bottoms surged ahead late. 

The contest between Bottoms, who is black, and Norwood, who is white, was seen as a test of the staying power of a long-dominant black political machine amid profound demographic and economic changes.

Both women are Atlanta city council members. Norwood calls herself an independent and Bottoms is the chosen successor of outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed.

A victory for Bottoms, 47, would continue a run of African-American mayors that began in the mid-1970s.

A win for Norwood, 65, would give Atlanta its first-ever white female mayor, and end the Democratic Party's hold on an office it has held without interruption since 1879.

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A big question is whether an ongoing federal probe of corruption in city contracting under Reed's watch will encourage voters to take a fresh look at Norwood, despite fears that as an independent who lives in the upscale Buckhead area of the city, she'll turn out to be a stealth Republican who will serve up City Hall to Georgia's deep-red political apparatus.

The race drew high-profile endorsements in the campaign's final week.

Bottoms scored the endorsements of U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., while Norwood received the endorsement of former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin.

Whoever wins will become only the second female mayor in Atlanta history, joining Franklin, who served from 2002-10.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Tim Darnell on Twitter: @TimDarnellATL

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