Georgia Dems nominate state party chairwoman for John Lewis' congressional seat

A nominating committee whittled the 131 applicants to five candidates Monday.

Nikema Williams, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG), was nominated to replace the late Congressman John Lewis on the November ballot.

As the U.S. mourns the loss of the civil rights icon who died on Friday after battling pancreatic cancer, Democrats acted swiftly to select a candidate for his seat representing the state's 5th Congressional District.

The state party's Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly for Williams after hearing five candidates recommended from the party's Nominating Committee. Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms were among the top Democrats who selected the finalists out of a pool of 131 candidates. Applicants had until Sunday evening to apply.

The five candidates who were recommended to the DPG Executive Committee for consideration were former President of Morehouse College Robert Franklin, state Rep. Park Cannon, Atlanta City Council member Andre Dickens, Georgia NAACP State President James "Major" Woodall and Williams.

Williams, who is also a member of the DPG Executive Committee, stepped down from her role as chairwoman and abstained from the voting process during the nomination hearing to avoid a conflict of interest.

Justin Holsomback, DPG secretary, stepped in as the acting chairman while Williams was considered.

Williams touted her record during the Executive Committee meeting, pointing to her advocating for reproductive rights and equitable public schools. She also called Lewis a "personal hero, friend, and mentor," and described herself as a "student of the John Lewis School of Politics. "

"I learned from Congressman Lewis -- how to speak up and speak out for my constituents. He showed me the value of putting myself, sometimes physically, in between the dangerous policies that the most vulnerable communities are hurt by," Williams said.

"Nobody could possibly fill the shoes of Congressman Lewis," she continued. "His leadership and fighting spirit is needed now more than ever in this country. I believe it is imperative that we choose someone with a long track record of fearlessly standing up for what is right and someone who will take on the endless attacks on our rights that we've grown accustomed to seeing from the Republican Party."

Georgia state law required the Democratic Executive Committee to select a replacement nominee no later than Monday at 4:30 p.m.

The congressional seat will remain empty until Gov. Brian Kemp calls a special election to fill the remainder of Lewis' term, which ends in January.

In November, Williams will face Republican candidate Angela Stanton-King, an author and television personality, in the November election. Stanton-King, an ally of President Donald Trump received a pardon earlier this year after serving six months of home confinement for her role in a stolen-vehicle ring.

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