Gov. Brian Kemp Calls Special Election To Fill Rep. John Lewis’ Current Term

The Troy University Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to rename historic Bibb Graves Hall — now named for a former governor who had ties to the Ku Klux Klan— in honor of John Lewis.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press file

Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday called a special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ current term, after the longtime congressman and civil rights leader’s death on July 17.

The special election is set for Sept. 29, barely a month before voters return to the polls in November to pick Lewis’ replacement for the next two years.

In accordance with state law, Kemp issued an executive order calling for a special election in the Atlanta-based 5th Congressional District, which Lewis had represented since 1987. The special election will be open to all candidates who qualify from any party, though the district leans heavily Democratic.

Any victory could be short lived, as Lewis’ current term ends in January.

The next two-year term will be filled by an election on Nov. 3. On the ballot in that race are Democratic state Sen. Nikema Williams, who was recently nominated by state party leaders to replace Lewis on the ballot, and Republican Angela Stanton-King, a reality TV personality pardoned earlier this year by President Donald Trump for her role in a stolen car ring.

It is unclear whether Williams, who will be a heavy favorite in November, will enter the special election. Her spokeswoman did not immediately return a text or phone message Monday.

There are risks for Williams in either scenario. Sidestepping the special election could open her to criticism that she ducked the district’s voters after Democratic party leaders nominated her for the November race. But if Williams jumps into the special election and is defeated, that would give her an unwanted blemish heading into November.