ATLANTA - On the eve of Monday's selection process to choose a Democratic nominee to fill U.S. Rep. John Lewis's House seat, Democratic political strategist Tharon Johnson issued a written statement saying in part, "Out of respect to Congressman Lewis's legacy, his successor should be chosen and elected by the Democratic voters of the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, not party officials."
Johnson has known the Congressman for decades, having served as his campaign manager and district director.
Johnson told FOX 5's Deidra Dukes, "Let's hypothetically say that the nominee they choose today goes on to be victorious in November. Once the votes are certified I'm calling on that person to resign on November 20, to allow the Governor to declare a day for a special election so the people of the 5th district can vote and have a representative hopefully by the end of January 2021."
Johnson's remarks were met with mixed reaction. Georgia Democratic State Senator Jen Jordan tweeted, "I don't agree with this for what it's worth."
"In January, the person is sworn in they immediately resign. It triggers a special election, which is set up like a jungle primary situation which means all comers, Democrats, Republicans and the like", Jordan said. She is concerned Democrats risk losing the coveted seat to the GOP if there's a special election with numerous Democratic candidates.
"If you have 10 to 15 candidates that are Democrats splitting up the Democratic vote and you have a strong Republican at the top, then there is always a situation where you can always come out with a Republican representing Congressional District 5."
Congressman Lewis's former chief of staff, like Johnson, believes the decision should solely be left up to voters.
In a letter to the Democratic Party of Georgia committee members who will select the person to fill Congressman Lewis's vacant seat, former Chief of Staff Michael Collins stated, "He (Lewis) believed very strongly that the people who represent the citizens should be elected by the citizens. And that a free and fair election, where all individuals have a level playing field is in the best interest of our democracy."