Georgia Democrats choose Nikema Williams to replace John Lewis on ballot

ATLANTA — The Georgia Democratic Party has chosen state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace Rep. John Lewis on the ballot in November.

Lewis passed away Friday after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Lewis covered Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which stretches from Brookhaven south past Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The congressman represented the district since he was first elected in 1987.

The district includes parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties.

Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot learned on Monday that Democrats didn’t want Lewis’ replacement to be hand-picked by an executive committee and they chose a veteran activist for the ballot.

The decision was announced after nearly two hours of much discussion over the five finalists that were narrowed down from 131 candidates who submitted their names for consideration over the weekend.

REMEMBERING JOHN LEWIS

The Democrats overwhelmingly selected Williams as their nominee to run for Lewis’ seat.

Williams beat out four other finalists:

  • Park Cannon - Cannon is the current state representative for Peoplestown and one of the few openly LGBTQ state lawmakers.
  • Andre Dickens -- Dickens currently serves on Atlanta City Council.
  • Robert Franklin -- Franklin is an Emory University professor and former president of Morehouse College.
  • James “Major” Woodall -- Woodall is the head of the Georgia NAACP.

Williams will face Republican Angela Stanton-King in November.

Williams made news in 2018 when she was arrested at the state capitol while protesting the gubernatorial election with other demonstrators.

On Monday, she promised to continue Lewis’ legacy

“Nobody could possibly fill the shoes of Congressman Lewis. His leadership and fighting spirit is needed now more than ever in this country,” Williams said.

While she was the overwhelming pick, there are some prominent Democrats hoping she’ll resign her seat shortly after she’s sworn in if she wins in November.

Doing that, they say, will trigger a special election and allow the voters to pick their representative rather than a committee.

“By the first of February, we will have selected the person to succeed John Lewis rather than being saddled with someone who’s been appointed by a few people in a smoke-filled room,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.

There is no word yet if that’s being considered. Williams will be on the ballot in November.