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Gloria, how's it gonna go down?

Mayoral hopeful's campaign foundering

The whispers are bound to get louder about the health of mayoral candidate Gloria Bromell-Tinubu's campaign, now that her top strategist has stepped down.

The candidate herself says "no big deal."

Emmett L. McCord Jr., the former campaign manager who left Bromell-Tinubu's camp last Friday, declines to cite a reason, saying the campaign still owes him money. But his tone indicates it was something more than just "creative differences."

"It's over on this end for sure," McCord says. "Anything I built will be dismantled."

McCord, the owner of a security services company and a pastor at For Christ's Sake Christian Center, says he will have more to say once his situation is resolved.

Bromell-Tinubu says her campaign has simply decided to go a different direction, and that she and McCord have parted ways.

"We needed to rearrange and readjust," Bromell-Tinubu says. "Campaigns do it all the time."

The website for Bromell-Tinubu, a Spelman College economics professor, now lists not a single staffer where two other names besides McCord's were once listed. "We're putting in place a new team," she says.

McCord's departure capped a tough week for Bromell-Tinubu's campaign. Last Wednesday, the Atlanta Labor Council announced it was endorsing one of her opponents, Shirley Clarke Franklin.

"We respect Gloria tremendously," says Charlie Flemming, president of the Labor Council. "She cares about working families, but we didn't think she was as viable as Shirley. It's a shame money ends up being a big part of it, but Gloria's campaign is way behind."

Put simply, the Labor Council, which represents about 90,000 people, didn't think Bromell-Tinubu's bid for mayor stood a chance.

As of March 31, Bromell-Tinubu had raised about $61,000, roughly $16,000 of that from a personal loan — and spent more than $66,000. Her campaign had only $2,000 cash available to spend. Meanwhile, Franklin has raised $1.3 million with a cool million in the bank, and the third major candidate, City Council President Robb Pitts, isn't too far behind with $800,000.

Bromell-Tinubu says the main reason for the change of personnel is so the campaign can focus on fundraising. The campaign was looking at raising money from a more traditional perspective even though it didn't have "connections to deep-pocket folk" and Bromell-Tinubu has been selling herself as a break from "politics as usual." The new fundraising strategy will be more in line with the campaign itself — putting a heavy focus on face-to-face interaction with people on the street.

Bromell-Tinubu says she'll be looking for smaller contributions from scores of people and has set a goal of raising all the money she'll need for her campaign by the next filing deadline in late June.

"We're shooting for 50,000 votes to win this election outright," Bromell-Tinubu says. "If you get $20 from 50,000 people, that's $1 million."

But for Bromell-Tinubu, who has billed herself as the "candidate of the people," the Labor Council's endorsement of Franklin had to hurt. At forums, debates, and on her website, Bromell-Tinubu has espoused the positions traditionally associated with labor - workers' rights, fair housing and affordable and efficient transportation. But it seems the Labor Council's decision was made in that hard area where platitudes meet financial realities. @body:"That is bad for her," says Clark Atlanta University political science professor William Boone about the Labor Council's decision. "You hope that you are judged by your programs."

Conventional wisdom says that a candidate behind on money must make a splash in other ways, but Bromell-Tinubu hasn't been grabbing headlines.

"You don't hear too much about her," Boone admits. "Maybe she's waiting for a strategic time. Maybe she's waiting for the summer to maximize her resources in the hopes she can piggyback on events sponsored by local groups, thinking that the media will catch on and help her out."

But her loss is Franklin's gain.

"[Franklin] believes in a lot of the things we care about," Flemming says, explaining the Labor Council's choice. "She can come up with a plan so the firemen, the police department and city workers aren't fighting for scraps" during the budget process.

In February, city workers — including sanitation workers and road crews — walked off the job for a day to convince City Council members to include $2,000 pay increases in the city's 2001 budget. The pressure worked, but Flemming says the incident is symbolic of the deterioration of communication between labor and the administration of current Mayor Bill Campbell. Labor is counting on Franklin to maintain an "open door" policy to help address concerns of workers, Flemming says.

Franklin can count on the Atlanta Labor Council to boost her campaign as it heads toward the Nov. 6 election, he says. The decision to endorse early was made so ALC members and money could go to work while the election is still in its infancy. In 1997, the Labor Council didn't endorse until September.

The Atlanta Labor Council is made up of 72 unions, including the Teamsters and United Auto Workers, and scores of smaller unions, such as the parking attendants and custodians at Hartsfield International Airport.

And really, that list is made up of the same kinds of people Bromell-Tinubu always seems to be talking about - writing a Declaration of Independence for Atlantans on her website, sounding downright proletarian in calls for redeveloping abandoned, city-owned housing stock. But as the Labor Council's vote shows, it is Bromell-Tinubu who must now work to find some new way to convince voters and interest groups that she can deliver money or manpower in the upcoming election. First, though, she has to find a new campaign manager.??