Two Democrats advance to December runoff to fill John Lewis’s seat — temporarily

By Rachael Bade,

Two Democrats emerged from a crowded Georgia special election Tuesday to advance to a runoff contest for the last weeks of the term of Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who died in July.

Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall and former Morehouse College president Robert Franklin were the top vote-getters in the seven-candidate field. With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Hall had 32 percent of the vote and Franklin 27 percent.

Because neither captured a majority of the vote, Hall and Franklin will compete Dec. 1 for the chance to fill the remainder of Lewis’s term, which ends Jan. 3.

Seven candidates ran, although none will be on the November ballot to replace Lewis in the next Congress.

Lewis, who served more than three decades in Congress, died July 17 at the age of 80. He had pancreatic cancer.

[John Lewis, front-line civil rights leader and eminence of Capitol Hill, dies at 80]

Five Democratic candidates ran for the seat in the district, which leans heavily Democratic: Hall; Franklin; Barrington Martin II, who launched a failed primary challenge against Lewis for the seat in June a few weeks before Lewis’s death; Mable Thomas, a state representative and former Atlanta City Council member; and Keisha Sean Waites, a former state representative.

An independent and a libertarian also ran.

None of the candidates will appear on the ballot to fill Lewis’s seat when the new Congress is sworn in in January. In that contest, state Sen. Nikema Williams (D) faces Republican Angela Stanton-King, an author and television personality. Given the makeup of the district, Williams is heavily favored to win.

Williams, 42, was first elected to the Georgia state Senate in 2017, and two years later, she became the first Black woman to chair the Georgia Democratic Party.

[Georgia Democrats choose Nikema Williams to replace the late John Lewis on the November ballot]

The House is scheduled to be out of session for much of October before Election Day and return for a few more weeks before the holiday break for the lame-duck session. That makes the term of the runoff’s winner among the shortest stints in Congress.

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