ATLANTA - The Democratic Party of Georgia has chosen state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace Rep. John Lewis on the November ballot, after the longtime congressman’s death last week.
Williams, who is the current senator for District 39, received an overwhelming majority of the votes to replace Lewis from the party's executive committee Monday afternoon.
On Monday morning, the party announced it had narrowed down the candidates to Williams, state Rep. Park Cannon, Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens, former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin, and Georgia NAACP President James "Major" Woodall.
The Democratic Party of Georgia said it chose those five finalists after receiving 131 applications by its Sunday evening deadline. A special seven-member committee of Democrats — including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter — helped select the finalists.
"For me, Congressmen Lewis was a personal hero, friend and mentor," Williams told the executive committee. "My entire political life I've considered myself a student of the John Lewis school of politics. I studied Congressman Lewis' work closely and practiced the art of getting into 'good trouble.'"
Williams will face Republican Angela Stanton-King in November. Stanton-King is a reality TV personality and was pardoned earlier this year by President Donald Trump for her role in a stolen car ring, after serving six months of home confinement in 2007.
In 2018, Williams was arrested by Capitol Police during a protest in the Gold Dome over that year's gubernatorial election.
After testing positive for COVID-19 in March, she was critical of Kemp's handling of the state's coronavirus pandemic, particularly criticizing his decision to allow businesses to re-open in April.
Lewis won more than 84% of the vote when he last faced a Republican opponent in the district in 2016.
The seat will remain empty until Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp schedules a special election. The Republican governor has given no indication when he will hold an election with just over six months left in Lewis’ term.
Lewis, 80, died Friday, several months after he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Funeral plans have not been announced. Kemp declared flags in Georgia will be at half-staff until sunset of the day of Lewis’ funeral.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.