ATLANTA - Governor Brian Kemp praised John Lewis on Twitter late Monday afternoon--calling the late congressman, "a man of integrity and a force for good." Afterward, some political experts have praised the governor for setting a special election that ensures the fifth congressional district won't go too much longer without a representative in Washington.
Kemp went on to write, "Although his loss remains heavy on the heart of our nation, his legacy will endure and we must all strive to live our lives with the resolve of a higher purpose and meaning like John Lewis."
The governor also issued an order indicating the special election to fill the vacancy for the 5th Congressional District will be held Tuesday, September 29.
Georgia Rep. John Lewis addresses the crowd during an election watch party on November 6, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
After years of nonviolent sit-ins, protests, marches and brutal assaults, John Lewis went from civil rights leader to political leader.
He was first elected in 1981 to the Atlanta City Council. Then, in 1986, voters sent him to Washington. He won every election in the decades to follow and served in the U.S. House of Representatives until he announced in December, he was undergoing treatment for stage four pancreatic cancer. Rep. Lewis passed away six months later, on July 17, at the age of 80.
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Georgia's top democratic leaders selected State Senator Nikema Williams to replace Lewis on the ballot in the general election November, but Democratic political strategist Tharon Johnson said the governor's decision to call a special election in September ensures voters in Atlanta, College park, East Point, Hapeville, Morrow and surrounding areas will have representation in Washington for those few months of Lewis' term.
"It's important to remember the winner of the November election doesn't even get sworn in until January and there are a lot of important votes that will take place before then--particularly as it relates to funding for COVID-19. That's why it was important to give voters the opportunity to elect someone to that seat, even if it's just for the last two months of his term," said Johnson, who is a member of FOX 5 political program "The Georgia Gang."
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger said qualifying for the September 29 election will take place July 29-July 31. He said qualifying must take place as soon as possible to meet federal deadlines for mailing ballots overseas and to military voters. If a run-off is necessary, that will take place December first.