Georgia Democrats on Monday selected Nikema Williams, a state senator and chairperson of the Georgia Democratic Party, to replace the late Rep. John Lewis on the ballot in November’s general election.
Representative Lewis, who suffered from stage four pancreatic cancer, died Friday. He was 80. Lewis, who had represented Georgia’s Fifth District in Congress since 1987, won the June primary to retain his seat in the heavily Democratic Atlanta district.
State Senator Williams,41, will face Republican and Trump loyalist Angela Stanton-King in November. Last February, President Trump pardoned Stanton-King for her role in a stolen vehicle ring in 2007. She served a six-month sentence in home confinement. Stanton also is an author and television personality.
Williams told nominating committee members, which included Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, that she considered Lewis a “personal hero, friend, and mentor.” Williams added that “it would be the honor of my life to serve as the voice of the 5th Congressional District.”
Williams said she had a long record for standing up for what’s right including being arrested in support of her beliefs. Police arrested Williams in 2018 with 14 others during a voting rights demonstration at the state Capitol. The charges were later dropped.
She comes from a family of activists. Williams is from Smtih Station, Alabama. Her father was a neighborhood leader, and her great aunt integrated the University of Alabama. Williams graduated from Talladega College before moving to Atlanta in 2002. She is the first black woman named chair of the Georgia Democratic Party.
Meeting by Zoom, committee members selected Williams from 131 applicants before whittling the number down to five finalists.
Early Monday, several members paid tribute to Representative Lewis on the House floor. On Monday afternoon, a visibly shaken Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi honored Lewis with a moment of silence and a bereavement resolution.