By Jim EllisJuly 20, 2020 — The death of veteran congressman and longtime civil rights activist, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), on Friday spurs Georgia’s unusual political succession law to take effect.
Since Mr. Lewis had already won re-nomination on June 9th, the Democratic Party must now name a replacement nominee and do so before 4:30 pm today. Georgia law gives a political party only one business day to name a replacement if, for whatever reason, a vacancy occurs post the nominating election.
In response, Democrats quickly assembled a committee of seven 5th District and statewide Democratic leaders who will send a recommended three to five candidates’ names to the Georgia Democratic Party’s state executive committee. The qualified members will then vote electronically from around the state in order to choose a new nominee by noon. The state party officials say they will communicate the Executive Committee’s choice to Georgia’s Secretary of State before 4 pm EST today.
According to the New York Times and other news outlets, three members of the screening committee are Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, and Jason Carter, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee, an ex-state senator, and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. They will quickly choose among the people who filed an online application for consideration.
Speculation as reported in an Atlanta Journal and Constitution article indicates that the favorite to emerge from this lightening quick party process is state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta), who is also the chair of the Georgia Democratic Party. Other top contenders are former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens, and ex-state senator Vincent Fort.