Election to Select John Lewis’ Short-Term Successor Heads to Runoff

In this June 21, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks before signing the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

ATLANTA (CN) — Former Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall and former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin, both Democrats, will face off in a December runoff election to finish the remainder of late congressman John Lewis’ term of office after neither candidate won a majority of the vote in Tuesday’s special election.

Voters in Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes most of metro Atlanta, selected Hall and Franklin as the two top vote-getters in a field of seven challengers competing to hold the seat until the term ends on Jan. 3.

The Democratic candidates who will not advance to the runoff after Tuesday’s vote include state Rep. Mable Thomas, former state Rep. Keisha Waites and Barrington Martin II, a teacher who lost the June primary to Lewis.

Non-Democratic candidates Chase Oliver, a libertarian businessman, and Steven Muhammad, a minister running as an independent, failed to garner more than 2% of the vote each.

The winner of the Dec. 1 runoff race will hold office for just 33 days.

Republican Angela Stanton-King and Democrat Nikema Williams will face off in the Nov. 3 general election to determine who will represent the district for the next full two-year term. Neither candidate chose to run in Tuesday’s special election.

Before his July 17 death from pancreatic cancer, Lewis won the June primary for the seat. He represented the district for 33 years. Williams, a state senator and the chairwoman of the state Democratic party, was named as the party’s nominee in July following a vote by the party’s executive committee. 

Georgia law required the party to nominate a candidate to replace Lewis on the ballot by the end of the first business day after his death.

Williams is highly favored to secure a win in the heavily-Democratic district against Stanton-King, an author and former reality television star who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in February for her 2004 conviction for participating in a car theft ring. 

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