Democratic Party Selects Nikema Williams to Replace John Lewis on Ballot
(APN) ATLANTA — The Democratic Party of Georgia has selected State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) to replace late-U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-GA) on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress for the Fifth Congressional District of Georgia in the upcoming November 03, 2020 General Election.
“Nobody will ever fill the shoes of Congressman Lewis. I will do everything in my power to honor his legacy and lift up his spirit. I’m honored to accept this nomination,” State Sen. Williams said.
Because Congressman Lewis had already won his party’s nomination for the general election when he passed away on July 17, 2020, state law, O.C.G.A. § 21-2-134(b)(1)(B), required the state executive committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia to swiftly appoint a replacement nominee to appear on the General Election ballot in November.
State Sen. Williams will face Angela Stanton-King, the Republican nominee, in the General Election in November, where Sen. Williams is generally favored to win as the Democratic nominee in the heavily Democratic District.
On Saturday, July 18, 2020, DPG announced a nomination process, providing until 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 19, for interested applicants to submit an application.
Some 131 applicants submitted applications.
The list of applicants was as notable for who it did include, as for who it did not include.
Former Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed–who had been rumored for years to be desirous of running for U.S. Rep. Lewis’s seat upon Lewis’s eventual retirement–did not apply for the position.
Reed’s decision may have been influenced by the ongoing corruption investigations, including convictions, of his former administration, even though there is no indication to date that he has been personally investigated.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms–who is currently on the shortlist to possibly be presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running-mate in November 2020–did not apply, but participated on the DPG’s nominating committee.
Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) who recently ran for Governor of Georgia, did not apply, and participated on the nominating committee as well.
Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large), whose late father, former State Sen. Julian Bond (D-Atlanta), once ran against John Lewis for the Congressional seat won by Lewis, did not apply.
Only one member of the Atlanta City Council, Andre Dickens (Post 3-at-large), applied. Dickens was one of the five finalists considered by the DPG.
The DPG announced their list of five finalists on Monday morning, July 20: State Sen. Nikema Williams, State Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta), Councilman Dickens, Robert Franklin, and James “Major” Woodall.
Robert M. Franklin, Jr. is the President Emeritus of Morehouse College.
James “Major” Woodall was elected last year, at the age of 25, as the President of the Georgia Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Other notable applicants for the nomination for U.S. Rep. Lewis’s seat include former State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta); former State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta), who has twice run against Lewis for the Democratic nomination; Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr.; State Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point); and Tyrone Brooks, Jr.
The five finalists were selected by a nominating committee convened by the DPG.
The nominating committee included: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; DuBose Porter, former DPG chairman; former State Rep. Stacey Abrams; former State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Atlanta); Glen Paul Freedman; LeWanna Heard Tucker; and John Jackson.
Then, a DPG Executive Committee consisting of 44 members considered the five finalists and selected Sen. Williams.
The final selection of Sen. Williams was predictable, especially given that she is the Chairwoman of the DPG.
Not everyone is pleased, however, with the selection process.
Tharon Johnson, who has served as campaign manager and district director for U.S. Rep. Lewis, called for the nominee selected by the DPG to agree to step down at the beginning of the new term to allow a proper election by the voters to take place.
“As the country mounts the passing of Congressman John Lewis, we must never forget the meaning of his life’s work. He spent his entire adult life fighting for civil rights and the right to vote in our democracy,” Johnson said.
“Out of respect for Congressman Lewis’s legacy, his successor should be chosen and elected by the democratic voters of the 5th Congressional District, not party officials,” he said.
His call does not appear to have been heeded.
Linda Pritchett, who plans to run for Sen. Williams’s vacated seat, complained about the lack of representation for Clayton County in the selection process.
Pritchett noted the Fifth Congressional District includes part of Clayton County.
“One of the flaws with the process, the Party completely disregarded Clayton County. The County had no representation on the Executive Committee that I know of, and definitely had no representation on the Nominating Committee,” Pritchett said.
Gov. Brian Kemp will call a Special Election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. Lewis’s current term, which ends in early January 2021, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.
“The writ calling for the Special Election shall be issued within ten days from the vacancy and the election must be at least thirty days after that. In federal elections, federal law requires military and overseas ballots to be sent 45 days before the special election,” Raffensperger’s office stated.
With respect to Sen. Williams’s seat, there will also be two Special Elections, Walter Jones, spokesman for Raffensperger’s office, told APN.
The first Special Election will be for the remainder of Sen. Williams’s term, which is essentially a non-term because the Legislature has already adjourned.
If the first Special Election is held in November, and there is a Run-off in January 2021, there is a possibility that the winner of the remainder of Williams’s term will serve zero days (arguably, negative days).
“It’s kind of an academic exercise,” Jones said.
As for the 2021-2022 State Senate term for which Williams already qualified and won the nomination, there will be a second Special Election.
“They will open up nominating again for Democrats only,” Jones said.
That is because no Republicans nor independents ran for the Senate District 39 seat this year. Therefore, only Democrats will be able to run, and the Democratic nominee will automatically become State Senator.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)