The Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) has selected Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-39) to replace the late Rep. John Lewis on the ballot in November. The committee will submit Sen. Williams’ name to the Secretary of State by no later than 4:00 p.m. today.
DPG released a list of names earlier today of the individuals recommended by the executive committee to be the 5th District Democratic nominee. In addition to Williams, Park Cannon, Andre Dickens, Robert Franklin and James “Major” Woodall were also considered. After a nonbinding poll of 41 votes, Williams had 37 votes, Cannon had two votes, and Woodall had 1 vote, with one abstention.
“We congratulate Nikema on this appointment, and look forward to working with her in this new capacity as we uphold and build on Congressman Lewis’ legacy and elect Democrats across Georgia this November,” said DPG Executive Director Scott Hogan in a statement.
Sen. Williams was born in Columbus and raised by her grandparents in Smiths Station, Alabama. She attended Talladega College where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology.
She has been a member of the Georgia State Senate since 2017. In November of 2018, she made national news when she was arrested at the State Capitol among protestors demanding that every vote be counted following the midterm elections.
She is the first Black woman to serve as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. She also plays a key role in the National Democratic Party as a member of the Executive and Resolution Committees of the Democratic National Committee.
Formerly, Sen. Williams served as Vice-President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc., Deputy Director of Civic Engagement at National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Deputy Executive Director at Care in Action, the advocacy and political arm of NDWA.
In November, Williams will face off against Republican Angela Stanton-King to represent Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.
Some Democratic community leaders have been critical of the nomination process. Hogan agreed that the system is not perfect.
“As a Party, we remain committed to upholding Congressman Lewis’ legacy of fighting for justice and for free and fair elections for every Georgian,” said Hogan. “We acknowledge that despite our best efforts here, both law and circumstance require us to use a system that falls short of a full district-wide election to ensure that we have a strong Democratic nominee on the ballot in November.”
“While this system was not perfect and we were forced to use what the Secretary of State and Georgia law demands, we know that we have the absolute best candidate in Nikema Williams who will fight hard for Georgians.”
Photo Credit: Office of Sen. Nikema Williams
Story updated on July 20 at 3: 55 p.m.